Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander, speaks at his change of command ceremony in the Pride Hangar at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 5, 2013. Kennedy served previously at Ellsworth on three separate occasions, and now returns as commander of the 28th Bomb Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kate Thornton-Maurer/Released)
Approximately 1,500 Airmen and leaders of the Black Hills community gathered for the 28th Bomb Wing change of command ceremony in the Pride Hangar on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 5, 2013. Formerly director of the Air Force chief of staff’s Strategic Studies Group at the Pentagon, Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th BW commander, will now lead the base’s more than 3,800 Airmen and civilian employees and oversee the operation of Ellsworth’s fleet of B-1 bombers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kate Thornton-Maurer/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
4/5/2013 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Col. Kevin Kennedy accepted command of the 28th Bomb Wing from former commander, Col. Mark Weatherington, during a ceremony at the Pride Hangar, April 5.
Coming from the Air Force chief of staff's Strategic Studies Group at the Pentagon, Kennedy will now lead the base's more than 3,800 Airmen and civilian employees and oversee the operation Ellsworth's fleet of B-1 bombers.
Following the national anthem and presentation of the colors, Airmen stood at attention while Lt. Gen. Robin Rand, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander, presided over the ceremonial passing of the guidon.
Before Kennedy took the floor, Rand congratulated him on his appointment and lauded his credentials, both academic and practical.
"There is no one better qualified to lead the 28th Bomb Wing in the tough months to follow," Rand emphasized.
During Kennedy's first address as commander, he expressed his appreciation to base leadership, community members and friends, before extending a special thank you to his family.
"You and the military families across the wing serve in a unique way," Kennedy said. "A service that is largely unrecognized, but critical to our success."
With this being his fourth assignment here, Kennedy is no stranger to Ellsworth. Previously, he served as a 37th Bomb Squadron aircraft commander, the 34th Bomb Squadron commander and the 28th Operations Group deputy commander. Now, as the 28th BW commander, he reflects on the tremendous privilege and responsibility of leading his Airmen.
"It is a tremendous honor that I plan to earn every day," Kennedy said.
Praising the wing's illustrious heritage - one he believes was cultivated by the hands of its Airmen - the 44-year-old colonel humbly expressed his hopes that his 23-year career has prepared him for what is to come.
"Over the coming months - more than ever - we will rely upon our core values, our innovative spirit and our professionalism to chart a successful course," Kennedy emphasized. "It will not be a simple task, but I have no doubt that you will excel and continue to provide the expeditionary combat power upon which our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines rely, and our nation demands."
The often-unpredictable South Dakota weather was unseasonably mild for the unveiling of the wing's flagship B-1 bomber with Kennedy's name below the cockpit's window. Surrounded by his wife and their five children, Kennedy added the continued efforts of the base's Airmen to neutralize terrorist threats in the midst of economic instability make him proud to, once again, be part of the Ellsworth team.
"There are a lot of great men and women that could step into this role," Kennedy said. "I'm honored to be here with the Airmen of the 28th Bomb Wing."