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Former Nomad returns to command the 33rd FW

U.S. Air Force Col. Jon Wheeler, incoming 33rd Fighter Wing commander, takes the guidon from U.S. Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th AF commander, during a change of command ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, June 18, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Col. Jon Wheeler, incoming 33rd Fighter Wing commander, takes the guidon from U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, commander of the 19th AF, during a change of command ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, June 18, 2019. This act symbolizes the transfer of command to Wheeler from U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Moga, the outgoing commander of the 33rd FW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amber Litteral)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Hundreds of Nomads welcomed a new commander to the 33rd Fighter Wing during a change of command ceremony here, Jun 18.

Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, the commander of 19th Air Force, presided over the ceremony where Col. Jon Wheeler took his place as the newest Nomad One and the wing bid farewell to Col. Paul Moga, who heads to an air staff position at the Pentagon.

Addressing Nomads, community partners and family alike, Wills lauded the 33rd FW for its continued contributions to the Air Force’s newest 5th generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II and praised Wheeler as a ‘perfect choice’ to continue the wing’s almost 80 year legacy in air power.

“The 33rd FW has been a catalyst to improving mission readiness and modernizing our F-35,” said Wills. “These F-35’s are the oldest in the fleet but they’re ready for the future thanks to this amazing team.”

Wheeler assumed the 33rd FW’s top spot after completing a remote tour as the vice commander of the 8th FW “Wolf Pack,” Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The move reunited Wheeler with his family but also returned the command pilot to Florida’s Emerald Coast and the Nomads.

In 2010, Wheeler was one of only 10 fighter pilots selected to serve in the inaugural cadre of F-35 instructor pilots at the 33rd FW. This group led the wing’s successful transition to the world’s first F-35 fighter wing and laid the foundation for the current flying training mission that Wheeler now oversees.

"Our mission of producing the world's finest F-35 pilots, Air Battle Managers, and intelligence professionals is absolutely critical to the Air Force of the future,” said Wheeler. “The training we provide to Nomad maintainers, and the support we provide to the joint maintenance training that happens here at Eglin, will directly impact our nation's ability to produce combat power.”

In closing, Wheeler expressed his gratitude to Airmen and their families for their constant dedication and pledged to his in return.

“I thank you and your families for the sacrifices you make and will continue to make to advance the program,” said Wheeler. “I promise you that I will do my very best to continue to focus on the mission while we grow our Airmen to be better leaders…there are exciting times ahead for this wing and I am honored to be your commander for the journey to come,” he concluded.

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