New commander takes reins at Keesler AFB - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New commander takes reins at Keesler AFB

Col. Michele Edmondson delivers her final address as Commander of the 81st TRW at Keesler AFB. (Photo source: WLOX) Col. Michele Edmondson delivers her final address as Commander of the 81st TRW at Keesler AFB. (Photo source: WLOX)
The 81st TRW Command at Keesler AFB changed hands Friday from Col. Michele Edmondson to Col. Debra Lovette. (Photo source: WLOX) The 81st TRW Command at Keesler AFB changed hands Friday from Col. Michele Edmondson to Col. Debra Lovette. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

The 81st Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base is now under a new commander. Colonel Debra Lovette assumed command of the second largest training wing in the Air Force Friday morning.

"Now if you take a look at the stage right now, you're going to see this is a bittersweet occasion," said Major General Robert LaBrutta while addressing a packed room full of airmen, local and state leaders, and families of the two colonels being honored.

Colonel Michele Edomondson's two-year tenure in the role as commander had been filled with accomplishments. "Seven Air Force awards, 92 major command awards, and 13 second Air Force awards," said LaBrutta.

Edmondson credited her fellow military personnel for the success. 
"This wing has accomplished more than I ever thought it would over the last two years. But, it wasn't because of me. It was because of the people enabling our airmen to do it," said Col. Edmondson.

But it was time to hand over the reins, and Colonel Debra Lovette said she was up to the challenge. She knew she had big shoes to fill, but she considered her style of leadership to be fairly complimentary to Colonel Edmondson's.

"The airmen matter to me. The people are the most important aspect of what we do in the Air Force. The most precious tool that we have," said Lovette.

Before stepping into this new role, Col. Lovette was the Director of Manpower, Personnel, and Services for Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. 

Col. Lovette is no stranger to Keesler. She graduated from the base around 20 years ago. Now, she describes looking back on her time as a student here as surreal.

"Literally did not ever see this day happening, but it is amazingly humbling," said Lovette. 

She hopes to continue the momentum that her predecessors got rolling. 

Colonel Edmondson is moving on to a position at the Pentagon. During the Change of Command ceremony, she was awarded the Legion of Merit for her service at Keesler. This is the seventh highest medal awarded by the Air Force.

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