New 81st Training Wing commander sworn in during ceremony at KAFB
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Following a ceremony on Thursday at Keesler Air Force Base, the task of shaping the airmen of the future has been handed down to a new commander: Col. Billy Pope.
“There’s really only one way to start this speech, so here it goes: welcome home, Billy Pope, welcome home,” said Maj. Gen. Michele Edmondson, 2nd Air Force Commander. “There’s no other wing in the United States Air Force that Billy Pope would want to lead. There’s just something special about this place.”
Col. Pope now assumes the role of commander for the 81st Training Wing in place of Col. Jason Allen, who goes back to his vice commander role after leading the team for three months in a temporary role.
“It is fantastic to be back on the Gulf Coast and back into the Biloxi-Gulfport Gulf Coast community,” Pope said.
The 22-year military veteran spent time at Keesler from 2014 to 2016. He said it’s not only a homecoming, but it’s also a huge responsibility leading airmen into the future of cybersecurity.
“We train every single cyber operator who enters our United States Air Force. They receive their initial skills here at the 81st Training Wing. Those innovative airmen and the ideas they bring to the fight are going be taken out into our Air Force and our Department of Defense.”
It’s a leadership style he’s patterned after George Washington.
“His concept, in summary, is if you want to lead, first listen. If you listen, then learn. If you learn, you might become helpful,” Pope added.
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