WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The men and women of the 82nd Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base are now taking orders from a new commander.
It was a little more than two years ago when then Col. Kenyon Bell took command at the base he had served at 24 years prior.
“I came in excited,” Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell and former 82nd Training Wing and Installation Commander said. “I expressed that excitement. Some of you may recall that. While I’m still excited today, I am now leaving inspired.”
Now came time for Gen. Bell to give his final salute to the men and women of the 82nd Training Wing and for Brig. Gen. Lyle Drew to give his first salute as he assumed command at a place also familiar to him.
“I’m excited to be here,” Gen. Drew and the new 82nd Training Wing and Installation Commander said. “It is great to be back in Wichita Falls. I had the opportunity to attend the aircraft maintenance officer course in 1999 as I started my career as an aircraft maintainer so it is exciting to be back here at Sheppard and in Wichita Falls.”
Gen. Bell led his airmen through a lot in two short years including the pandemic as well as most recently changing the name of 5th Ave. to honor the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army. Gen. Drew said he hopes to build off of those accomplishments.
“I get to follow a friend,” Gen. Drew said. “I’ve known Gen. Bell for over a decade. He is a great friend, he is a superior officer and so what we do all of the time is we follow and continue the great work that our predecessors have done. So that’s my job is to take the work that he has started and continue to move that ball down the field every single day.”
Gen. Drew also said starting out there will be no changes, instead, he’s going to listen and learn.
“My first two months here I’m going to absorb everything that is going on, not only here on the base but in the community and I want to learn where I can add value,” Gen. Drew said.
Before Gen. Drew assumed the command, Gen. Bell had one last thing to say to his successor.
“You are the right person for the job and I’m happy that we have the history that we have and I look forward to seeing where you take this wonderful wing,” Gen. Bell said. “Don’t screw it up because you are my friend.”
Prior to Sheppard, Gen. Drew served as the director of staff at headquarters air force materiel command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.