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460th OG changes hands

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo -- Col. Wayne McGee, 460th Space Wing commander, passes the 460th Operations Group guidon -- during the group's change of command -- to Col. Richard Schoonmaker. Colonel Schoonmaker assumed command of the 460th OG April 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steve Czyz)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo -- Col. Wayne McGee, 460th Space Wing commander, passes the 460th Operations Group guidon -- during the group's change of command -- to Col. Richard Schoonmaker. Colonel Schoonmaker assumed command of the 460th OG April 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Steve Czyz)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- -- Col. Richard Schoonmaker assumed command of the 460th Operations Group from Col. Christopher Ayres at a ceremony in front of Bldg. 1030, here, April 30 at 9 a.m.

Colonel Ayres is moving on to Minot AFB to become the commander of the 91st Space Wing.

Colonel Schoonmaker comes to Buckley from the Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville, Ala.

"You're the leader we looked for," said Col. Wayne McGee, 460th Space Wing commander, of the new 460th OG commander. "You're the one we want and you're the one we need ... we look forward to your leadership and we certainly look forward to your success."

After Colonel Schoonmaker received command he addressed his new group.

"I am pleased to find that I have been handed a first-rate team. My intention is to ... climb and stay on top for years beyond our tenure," said Colonel Schoonmaker. "Our mission requires a warrior ethos which I believe is alive and well at the 460th Space Wing.

"I pledge to you my devotion, my loyalty and I promise to lead by example with a strong reliance on integrity," he said. "I stand before you both humbly and I am privileged to lead this outstanding team."

During the ceremony Colonel McGee also addressed the out-going Colonel Ayres.

"Col. Ayres's accomplishments have truly shaped the way America conducts warfare with our space systems," said the wing commander. "You've brought great pride and camaraderie and teamwork to the ops group and to the wing. You've made me proud and you have made our nation proud."

Colonel Ayres received the Legion of Merit Medal and then addressed the 460th SW and the 460th OG.

"I owe you so much for this day, and success of the last two years," said Colonel Ayres. "It's been one heck of a ride ... it's kind of like riding a slick surfboard in the middle of a few tempests in the last two years and hopefully today marks the day I hit the beach -- safely."

Colonel Ayres inspected his group one last time before turning the reins over to Colonel Schoonmaker.

Colonel Schoonmaker has been assigned to: F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C.; the Joint Staff, D.C.; and the Missile Defense Agency.

The new 460th OG commander is a graduate of Arizona State University and was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1987. He received his Master of Public Administration from the University of Wyoming and attended the Squadron Officer's School at Maxwell AFB, Ala., in 1992; Master of Science, Military Operational Art and Science, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., in 2000; and Master of Science, Strategic Studies, Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., in 2007.
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