Klamath Falls, Ore. – The 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field is under new management, following a change of command.
Friday was Colonel Jeff Smith’s last day as Wing Commander.
“It was surreal.” Notes Col. Smith. “I was okay when I came to work, until my son walked in the building, and looked at me and started crying.”
Smith also flew his last flight in an F-15. “I took off, and was going to the coast, and I was actually shaking a little in the airplane because I realized it was my last time ever doing that.”
Colonel Jeff Smith handed over the reigns of the 173rd Fighter Wing to Colonel Jeff Edwards in a ceremony at Kingsley Field Saturday.
The two men’s careers have interwoven over the years.
“We are definitely similar.” Notes Col. Edwards. “He’s probably a better fisherman than I am, that’s for sure – I know that to be a fact. But we definitely share a love of flying, and a love of the Air Force over the years.”
Edwards says he’s looking forward to the challenge. “It’s a fantastic team here, and what a great community that supports us. Combined with this beautiful location, you just can’t beat this as a place to be in this business.”
Colonel Smith says he believes Kingsley is in good hands with Colonel Edwards. “He’s a great American. I’ve known him since we were 18 years old. He’s a man of moral principle, he’s a man of integrity, he cares about people genuinely.”
Edwards says he’s confident about the future of the base. “Whatever the Air Force, whatever the Air National Guard needs us to do. I think that we have a history and a legacy of training – and I think that’s what our strong area is in.”