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MSG welcomes new commander

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hedges (right) assumes command of the 109th Mission Support Group from Col. Shawn Clouthier (center), 109th Airlift Wing commander, during a change of command ceremony Sept. 13, 2014, at Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. Col. Walter Wintsch (left) relinquished command during the ceremony. Hedges served as the 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander before taking the position as MSG commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hedges (right) assumes command of the 109th Mission Support Group from Col. Shawn Clouthier (center), 109th Airlift Wing commander, during a change of command ceremony Sept. 13, 2014, at Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. Col. Walter Wintsch (left) relinquished command during the ceremony. Hedges served as the 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander before taking the position as MSG commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hedges speaks to the audience after assuming command of the 109th Mission Support Group during a change of command ceremony Sept. 13, 2014, at Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. Hedges served as the 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander before taking the position as MSG commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hedges speaks to the audience after assuming command of the 109th Mission Support Group during a change of command ceremony Sept. 13, 2014, at Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. Hedges served as the 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander before taking the position as MSG commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Col. Walter Wintsch retired in a ceremony Sept. 13, 2014, at Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y., after nearly 40 years of service. Before retiring, he relinquished command of the 109th Mission Support Group to Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hedges.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Col. Walter Wintsch retired in a ceremony Sept. 13, 2014, at Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y., after nearly 40 years of service. Before retiring, he relinquished command of the 109th Mission Support Group to Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hedges. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hedges assumed command of the 109th Mission Support Group during a change of command ceremony here Sept. 13.

Hedges, previous 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, assumed command from Col. Walter Wintsch in a ceremony officiated by Col. Shawn Clouthier, 109th Airlift Wing commander. Changes of command are a military tradition representing the transfer of responsibilities from the presiding official to the upcoming official.

"What the Support Group is getting is a man with a lot of experience, a man who's already shown how he cares for you by the community events he's set up to Gettysburg and Massachusetts, and his day in and day out operations down in LRS," Clouthier said to the audience. "He's done a super job, and we're going to expect a lot more out of him as the Support Group commander."

Wintsch spoke to the audience and said that the ceremony wasn't so much about him, as it was for Hedges. He thanked the Wing members for the support they had given him over the years.

"The last couple of years as the Support Group commander have probably been the most rewarding couple of years I've ever had in my life on the professional side," said Wintsch. "To all the officers, senior NCOs and Airmen, you're the ones who really make it happen in the Support Group. You push hard every day, and I really appreciate that. Thank you all for a great run as your Support Group commander. And to Colonel Hedges, I'm excited for you. I know you're going to take the Support Group to the next level."

After the Mission Support Group guidon was passed to Hedges, he addressed the audience. Hedges thanked the LRS for all they had done, as well as many others throughout the Wing and his family for their support. He also spoke about the importance of three familiar symbols to the 109th AW's members - the LC-130, the U.S. Flag, and the U.S. Air Force uniform. Hedges then turned his attention to Wintsch.

"Colonel Wintsch said that the change of command ceremony really wasn't about him, it was about me. But that's not true. In most cases it would be, but not today," he said. "Because no matter what I say, my words are simply going to be in the shadow of everything you have done, Sir. So on behalf of the 109th Airlift Wing, thank you for leading so many, so well, for so long."

Following the ceremony, Wintsch officially retired after serving for nearly 40 years in the military; almost 30 of those years with the 109th Airlift Wing.