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City of Spokane Valley, WA
Newberry assumes command at Fairchild

08/17/2012

By JAMES EIK
Staff Reporter

 

Fairchild Air Force Base saw the end of an era Aug. 6 as Col. Paul Guemmer transferred command of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing to Col. Brian Newberry.

Guemmer performed his final inspection of the troops at the ceremony, saluting each of the four groups in the wing.

“Today is a day of transition for a world-class team,” Brig. Gen. Lawrence Martin Jr., vice commander of the 18th Air Force at Scott Air Force Base, said during his remarks at the ceremony.


Col. Paul Guemmer inspects Fairchild Air Force Base personnel for the final time on Monday. Photo by: James Elk

Guemmer, who took command in July of 2010, was selected as the new deputy director, strategy, policy, programs and logistics for the United States Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Newberry comes to Fairchild from the 376th Expeditionary Operations Group at the Transit Center in Manas, Kyrgyz Republic.

Newberry is already experienced with aircraft at Fairchild, having flown KC-135 Stratotankers in Manas. He has logged over 4,300 flight hours during his time with the Air Force, which dates back to 1991, when he entered as a distinguished military graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

During Guemmer’s time as commander, the base remained extremely active, proving to be a challenging post for two years. Immediately upon his arrival, the base received an inspection, and began preparations for a $43 million runway renovation in 2011. For most of the year, the base was operating from three separate locations: the main base itself, Spokane International Airport and Moses Lake.

“Last year, during our runway closure we were able to reconnect with some of that great community and some of our great friends down there,” Guemmer said at the ceremony.

As the renovation moved forward, Fairchild still conducted missions on a daily basis, with seemingly little to no change in its effectiveness. During his tenure, Guemmer oversaw supporting operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Japan.

“Your precision and seamlessness were amazing. You delivered early and under budget. You were so good there were times AMC (Air Mobility Command) did not remember we were operating out of three separate locations,” he said to members of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing.

Newberry saw the dedication and support from Fairchild’s planes, which he said were covering coalition forces 24/7, even during the harshest times of winter. He thanked Guemmer for the wing’s leadership over the past two years.

“Daily I saw the excellent fruits of your leadership overseas and am excited to continue this wing’s excellent tradition here, in concert with the impeccable Guard team and the wonderful community of Spokane,” Newberry said.

Also while stationed overseas, Newberry’s group saw first-hand the support given from the local community. One care package in particular, from a Lewis and Clark High School senior, kept spirits high long after its arrival.

His wife, Jill, and two sons, Mark and Matthew, whom he thanked for their support while deployed overseas last year, joined Newberry Monday morning.

Looking back at his two years with the members of the wing, Guemmer spoke directly to the men and women in his wing.

“I stand before you as a Wing Commander humbled by your success and proud to be part of this incredible team,” he said.
Changes of command at Fairchild take place roughly every two years. Col. Robert Thomas held the command position from September 2008 until June 2010, when Guemmer was selected.
While Guemmer transitions into his new role in Illinois, he said the future of the base is in good hands.

“I know emotion is coming, but right now I feel complete satisfaction that this wing will continue to excel. This is in large part because you have an outstanding officer taking the flag,” Guemmer said.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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