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Altus AFB Welcomes New Air Mobility Wing Commander

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ALTUS Okla_ Altus Air Force Base has a new wing commander.

Colonel William Spangenthal took over command from Colonel Anthony Krawietz Thursday. General Edward Rice, Jr., Commander of the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, did the honors.

Airmen, family and friends gave one last goodbye to Colonel Krawietz and then welcomed Colonel Spangenthal as the new head of the "Mighty 97th."

During Rice's speech, he told the crowd that the air force doesn't bring people in to fill someone else's shoes; they bring in people to make their own footprints.

That's something Colonel Spangenthal said he intends to do.

"I feel great," Spangenthal said. "I am honored to be here."

Spangenthal got a huge welcome to Altus AFB, as he took the reins of wing commander. He said he most looks forward to working with the airmen.

"They're tremendous," Spangenthal said. "I am a people's person. I love to spend time talking to individuals, and we have great, great airmen in this United States Air Force. We've got the finest in the world. They do amazing things, and they're brilliant people."

Spangenthal has served a little over 20 years in the air force, acting as commander at Travis AFB in California and more recently, overseas in the Kyrgyz Republic. He said he's eager to share his experiences with the Mighty 97th, a place where he's learned how to maneuver KC-135s and C-17s.

"I have spent my whole career as a consumer of the product at Altus," Spangenthal said. "I was a Squad Commander in the C-17. I was the Deployed Operations Group Commander with 135s and C-17s. So, I believe I understand what the combat forces need to look like and what the combatant commander needs out in the field."

For outgoing commander Colonel Anthony Krawietz inspecting the Mighty 97th one last time, the ceremony was a time to reflect.

"The community took us under their wing," Krawietz said. "We shot birds, something I haven't done before. I said, 'Oh, my gosh, I am saddle sore.' I never thought I'd say that in my life. I had a longhorn steer behind me riding this base right here."

In his two years at Altus AFB, Krawietz has seen more than 3,600 operators of the KC-135 and C-17 aircraft graduate, delivered food to earthquake-stricken Haiti and seen his airmen dominate the Air Mobility Command Rodeo.

He said his biggest accomplishment probably is receiving the Order of the Spear, the highest honor and tribute enlisted airmen can give a leader.

"What that said to me is they know that I care about what they do everyday," Krawietz said. "They are the men and women who do the work, who are out here in this heat right now, or the ramp or digging some trench somewhere to lay cable."

Krawietz told the crowd Thursday he and his family were leaving Altus Air Force Base better than when they came. He and his family are heading to Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

 

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