HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – Col. Ryan Keeney assumed command of the 49th Wing during a formal ceremony, May 21, 2020, here.
Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony, where Col. Joseph Campo relinquished command. The ceremony was unique, as members of the official party and a few attendees abided by physical distancing guidelines in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re proud to stand with you as we battle the coronavirus and we look forward to the day when we can come together once more to celebrate our community,” said Wills.
Many family members of the official party were unable to attend in person and viewed the ceremony in real-time via Facebook Live. Additionally, members of the audience wore cloth face coverings and sanitizing stations were available throughout the hangar.
“As we speak, COVID-19 continues to challenge our nation and threaten our people and our future,” said Wills. “I’m immensely proud of the work (Col. Joseph Campo) and the 49th Wing has done to combat this unprecedented threat. When you say goodbye to an amazing leader, there’s always an outstanding leader waiting in the wings, and I can honestly say that ‘TRAX’ Keeney is exactly the guy to come in behind ‘Knuckles.’”
Keeney is the 93rd commander to lead the 49th Wing since its beginning as the 49th Pursuit Wing in 1940. The 49th Wing now houses the Air Force’s premiere F-16 Fighting Falcon and MQ-9 Reaper training units.
“When I received the call that I would be getting the chance to lead the ‘Fighting Forty-niners’ I was beyond excited to join such a storied Wing,” said Keeney. “As the birthplace of combat airpower for the most dominant military this world has ever seen, we have a critical role to ensure our Air Force is just as lethal on the backside of the coronavirus pandemic as it was before. We will continue to train the world’s best (Combat Air Force) aviators with the skills they need to win any future fight.”
Despite the unique features of this ceremony, in honor of military tradition, it serves as a formal transfer of command authority to the new commanding officer.