Stokes takes command at 22nd Air Force
By Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 09, 2016
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris relinquished command of the 22nd Air Force to Maj. Gen. John Stokes during a change of command ceremony August 8 in the banquet hall at the Marriot Hotel in Atlanta. Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, chief of Air Force Reserve, commander Air Force Reserve Command, officiated the military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another.
“What an awesome career,” Miller said of Harris’ career during her remarks. “That journey continues as she pins on her third star and transition to the Pentagon.”
Miller went on to highlight Harris’ distinguished career, thanked her for her commitment to the Airmen of the 22 AF for the past two years and noted that she will be the first Reservist to receive a third star beyond the position that Miller currently holds.
The 22 AF commands over 15,000 Airmen across 30 locations, boasts 16 units as well as three special Department of Defense missions which utilize the C-130 Hercules H and J model aircraft. Harris noted that a term had been coined perfectly for the explanation of the special missions: ‘Earth, Wind and Fire.’
“Earth is Youngstown’s aerial spray mission, Wind is Keesler with their ‘Hurricane Hunters,’ and Fire is Peterson with their fire suppression,” Harris explained. “Those missions, flying the mighty Hercules, provide defense and safety for our homeland. So when you the 130 flying up ahead, it’s not only the sight and sound of freedom, but they are also protecting you every single day. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Harris also noted the challenges that the command continues to face. Even though one wing under the 22nd is closing, Harris highlighted the flexibility and dedication that the 22 AF Airmen continue to show in the face of adversity and noted that for every loss, there are gains.
“What we’ve lost, we’ve gained,” she said. “That’s how the 22 AF has retained its relevancy, because we’ve gained the 932nd Airlift Wing, and we’re looking to gain even more in the future.”
In her closing remarks, Harris expressed her sincere gratitude for the superior Airmen she commanded and all who had an impact on her career.
“The 22 AF is the special missions [Numbered Air Force] that delivers 24/7 and 365 days a year, answering our nations call,” she said. “I’m just so incredibly grateful to have this time with you and to have had the last 2-years with you.”
Stokes acknowledged the capability of his new command, expressed his commitment to responsibility for the 22 AF Airmen. He highlighted the troops in the room by saying that they represent what’s best about our country, their sacrificial service, their patriotism and their love of country.
“For our airmen, you are our most important resource,” he said. “I’ll fight to build your combat readiness and war fighting capacity, and protect the way of life that is unique to the Air Force Reserve.”
Stokes went on to say that Airmen are the one percent, and he will continue to be an advocate for them. He exclaimed that excellence doesn’t just happen and that Airmen shouldn’t ever settle for mediocrity but continue to strive for excellence in all they do. He and his family are excited for what the future will bring, and he will continue to build upon the excellence set forth by Harris.
“The challenge of our command is not only that we’re relevant today,” Stokes said. “But, also that we remain relevant tomorrow, and I accept that challenge.”