Familiar face assumes command of Ellsworth

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Jake Jacobsen
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Col. Derek Oakley took command of the world’s largest operational B-1B wing during the 28th Bomb Wing change of command ceremony at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, June 23.

Ellsworth Airmen and their families joined community and political leaders at the ceremony officiated by Maj. Gen. Andrew Gebara, Eighth Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander.

In his opening remarks, Gebara welcomed everyone and discussed the history of the “Mighty Eighth,” with special emphasis on the significant role that Ellsworth continues to play in projecting strategic airpower around the globe.

Gebara also recognized Col. Joseph Sheffield, the outgoing 28th BW commander, for all the accomplishments he achieved during his two-year assignment as commander.

“Command is leadership organized around responsibility, authority, and accountability,” said Gebara. “I can’t think of a better commander that has executed those leadership principles, while achieving mission success and maintaining the wellbeing of Airmen and military families, better than Colonel Sheffield.”

Over the past two years under Sheffield’s command, the 28th BW earned 148 Department of Defense, Air Force and Air Force Global Strike Command awards. The wing also accomplished five Bomber Task Force missions and eight CONUS-to-CONUS global power missions.

With the high expectations of building on top of Sheffield’s success, Gebara added that the decision to make Oakley the new wing commander was an easy one.

“Derek was hand selected for his reputation of tackling the mission with efficiency, tenacity and brilliance,” said Gebara. “He is widely recognized among the Air Force as a B-1 and B-21 expert. He will not only build upon and leverage the foundation set by his predecessor, but he will make it even better.”

Oakley is no stranger to Ellsworth, having recently served as the 28th Operations Group commander. He is a command pilot with more than 3,400 flying hours in the B-1B, T-38, T-6, and T-37 and 991 combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Oakley, the 54th commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, concluded the ceremony with a reminder and a challenge to the Raiders of Ellsworth.

“Both Ellsworth Air Force Base and the 28th Bomb Wing have a heritage of innovation and mission success developed out of the work of the brave men and women that came before us,” said Oakley. “I challenge you to do what Raiders do, be brave and be bold.”