TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Sometimes change can be hard, but it can also be positive.
On June 7, the 72nd Air Base Wing welcomed incoming Commander Col. Paul Filcek during a Change of Command Ceremony at the Tinker Event Center. Filcek assumed command of the wing from Col. Kenyon Bell.
About 400 people, including friends, family, Tinker civilian and military personnel and community members, filled the event center’s conference room to say goodbye to Bell, who Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, described as a “blessing” for Tinker, while also saluting Filcek.
“Today, we bid farewell to an outstanding commander, and welcome an equally outstanding leader,” Kirkland said of Bell and Filcek, respectively.
Kirkland said Bell, who had one last opportunity to address his wing before relinquishing his command – would redirect all of the credit to his team – and he did just that.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your commander,” he said. “This week has been full of several grand commemorations. All of the amazing things that have been accomplished during my time here have nothing to do with me, but more so my team.”
Bell is credited with the implementation of several base projects, including the new air traffic control tower, an Airborne Early Warning and Control simulator facility that is expected to be completed sometime this year, as well as the KC-46A Pegasus campus development.
Bell’s next stop is just about two-and-a-half hours away from Tinker at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, assuming command of the 82nd Training Wing.
“As our family makes the transition to Sheppard AFB, we will miss our family and friends here at Tinker. We are excited about the next adventure and best wishes to you all for boundless success,” he said.
Filcek, formerly Vice Commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex prior to taking over the 72nd ABW, followed Bell.
“You could’ve toned it down a little bit,” Filcek said to Bell. “I do not only have to follow the command of an exceptional leader in Bell, but I also have to follow his amazing speech. To be the new commander of a wing that displays world-class values humbles me to the very core. I’m going to spend more than a million minutes gaining your trust.”
Filcek will assume readiness command for $5.4 billion in resources and more than 19 million square feet of facilities that sit on about 5,500 acres. And along with it, support services for 27,000 civilian and military assigned to the base and approximately 2,394 contractors, 18,000 dependents and more than 36,000 military retirees.