KEESLER AFB, BILOXI (WLOX) - There's a new leader of the Second Air Force. Wednesday morning, Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy replaced Maj. Gen. Robert LaBrutta as the new commander in a traditional change of command ceremony at Keesler Air Force Base.
LaBrutta, welcomed just one year ago at this same field, is now saying goodbye to his troops. He will be headed to the Pentagon.
"I tell you. Even though it was short, it was the best job and the best experience of my 34 years in the Air Force," LaBrutta told the crowd. "Every single one of you should be proud of yourselves. You hit grand slams every single day. I'm honored to have served with each and every one of you."
Just prior to this assignment, Leahy was commander of the LeMay Center for Doctrine and Education and vice commander of the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
It was a major and historic ceremony for the Second Air Force, which is comprised of four training wings and more than 103 training units around the world. The ceremony left an impression on the new commander.
"When you're sitting in a change of command such as this, with a parade with thousands of young airmen marching in front of you, as they pass by, you can see that enthusiasm. You can see that pride. You can't help but say I am in the right place," said Leahy.
The Second Air Force provides basic and non-flying technical training in more than 390 Air Force specialties, graduating some 150,000 students a year.
The outgoing commander credits his troops for providing inspiration. The incoming leader welcomes the opportunity to command Second Air Force, and says he is excited about what's to come.
Both believe they wouldn't be where they are if it weren't for the young airmen who inspire them.
Leahy is tasked with developing new training methods for a new Air Force, but his goal is to be a good student as well as a respected teacher.
"It's looking and learning from the young airmen," Leahy said. "They have grown up in a generation with technology and a way of looking at things that is dramatically different than the people of my generation."
It's an exciting time for Col. Leon Lawson, Jr., 81st Training Group commander.
"The next command brings transition. We look forward to new forms of training as we transition to new forms of learning," Lawson said. "We're looking at making our airmen the best airmen as we continue to transition into the information age."
Leahy is now responsible for the development, oversight, and direction of all operational aspects of basic military training, initial skills training, and advanced technical training of all Air Force enlisted members and support officers.