The battlefield Airmen of the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing welcomed U.S. Air Force Col. Jeffery Valenzia and said farewell to Col. Joseph Locke during a change of command ceremony June 28, here.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Zobrist, Ninth Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony, an event that marks the beginning of a new era as Valencia becomes the sixth Airman to take command of the historic wing.
“Today is an exciting day as we say farewell to an exceptional warrior, leader and commander in Colonel Locke,” said Zobrist. “I’ve had the privilege of watching the wing’s Airmen execute their mission first-hand. The extraordinary level of achievements this wing has accomplished in a two-year period is no small feat and it speaks volumes to the leadership of Col. Locke. He’ll be sorely missed as he moves on but has left the wing in a great position for his counterpart to take over.”
Zobrist recognized Valenzia as a stellar replacement with an impressive resume that is more than qualified to lead the over 2,800 Battlefield Airmen from three groups at 20 locations throughout the continental U.S.
“I’m truly honored and humbled to become a part of the [93d AGOW] and become a ‘Spartan,’” said Valenzia. “[Maj. Gen.] Zobrist, thank you for your trust and confidence that you’ve given me with this opportunity to join this historic wing. I’m proud to become a part of your team and to become a part of your legacy and your valor.”
As an F-16 pilot with a background in command and control, Valenzia embraces the challenges of leading the Airmen of the 93d AGOW, a wing that provides highly trained ground combat forces capable of integrating air and space power into the ground scheme of fire and maneuver.
During his final address to the Airmen he’s commanded for the past three years, Locke wished Valenzia luck, commended the battlefield Airmen and joked that he would stay to lead the 93d for another ten years if allowed.
“Your dedication to the mission has motivated me every day,” said Locke, who will deploy to Southwest Asia. “Your constant service of defending our great nation and willingness to bear any burden speaks volumes of your patriotism. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to serve with you. You’ve done the impossible and made it look easy. But it’s been anything but easy.
“I can’t thank you enough and look forward to watching you push this mission forward to ensure airpower success,” Locke added. “I leave you with this. Defend. Attack. Defeat.”