Hundreds of people gathered at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville Thursday morning to honor the current commander as he moves on to his next assignment. They also welcomed his replacement, who inherits the job of overseeing roughly 4,000 military personnel. Every 2 years, the commander of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base steps down, and a new person is appointed to take their place. Airmen, family members, and friends were at the change of command ceremony to honor Brigadier General Paul McGillicuddy, as he prepares for his next mission in Southwest Asia where he will assume command of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. McGillicuddy's replacement, Colonel Phillip Stewart, has been at Beale for about a year serving as the Vice Wing Commander. He's been certified to fly a variety of reconnaissance planes, including the U-2 and MC-12 "Liberty". He also has experience with the F-15 fighter jet. As the airmen at Beale welcome their new commander, they say they're fully confident in his ability to lead them.
Sergeant Alexander Gordon says, "Since Col. Stewart's been here we know what to expect, and we know what the mission here at the wing is. We know what we have to do in order to make sure that happens."
During the ceremony, McGillicuddy offered his assurance that Stewart has what it takes to get the job done.
"He's familiar with the mission. He knows the people, and when we say he's going to be ready on day one we actually mean it," he says.
McGillicuddy also recognized the airmen at the base for their accomplishments over the past few years, before signing off with a fond farewell. During his time as commander, Beale Air Force Base had a 99.8 compliance rate for its missions, which is the highest in air combat command history.