Dobbins Air Reserve Base, 22nd Air Force gets new commander

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Transient Alert Aircraft Servicer, Lawrence Rogers marshals a C-130 Hercules from the 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air Guard at Savannah, into a parking space at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., Jun 6. Three aircraft evacuated from Savannah to Dobbins to get out of the path of tropical storm Andrea as it made its way across Florida and up the east coast. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Brad Fallin)


Chart Riggall

Marietta Daily Journal, Ga.

MARIETTA — With pomp, circumstance, and more than a few claps on the back, Maj. Gen. Bret Larson took the helm of the 22nd Air Force in a ceremony at Dobbins Air Reserve Base Saturday.

The handoff to Larson culminated with an official passing of a flag from outgoing commander Maj. Gen. John Healy, as military brass looked on.

Larson arrives from a previous post in San Antonio, while Healy, who served at the 22nd’s commander for nearly two years, is headed to Washington for a job in the Pentagon.

“We reviewed a list of officers that had the ability to command the 22nd, and I decided a clear choice emerged,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, head of the Air Force Reserve Command.

“Someone who’s a perfect fit to lead (the 22nd) during a time when the reserve command, and our Air Force, continues to transform to meet the demands of the competition tomorrow … that individual is Maj. Gen. Bret Larson.”

Dobbins’ 94th Airlift Wing is the base’s ‘host’ unit, but serves as one of seven wings within the 22nd Air Force, a larger administrative unit. The 22nd is headquartered at Dobbins and also has wings in Alabama, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Colorado, and Illinois. Larson will be tasked with overseeing all of these units with Dobbins and Cobb County as his home.

“I look at it as, I work for 12,000 airmen. They’re my boss. I do what I can to make sure they have what they need,” Larson told the MDJ. He also thanked his family, who will be relocating to Cobb with him.

“Thank you for all the support you’ve given throughout the years—I couldn’t do this without you. Especially Lesley, thank you,” Larson said, addressing his wife. “Everything you do makes me better. You should be up here and I should be down there.”

To ease Larson’s transition, Brig. Gen. Craig McPike, formerly the top officer of the 94th Airlift Wing, has been tapped as his second in command. McPike’s successor is expected to be named soon.

“We will be responsible for making sure that (the wings) have the organization, training, and equipment,” McPike said. “To make sure they have the resources they need, the training courses that they need, and then the manpower and all the equipment that they need to do their mission.

“It’s fantastic. I’m thankful that I don’t have to move, because I’ve moved six times in the last 10 years … the Air Force Reserve is being very kind to me and allowing me to switch jobs,” he added.

Larson said he was particularly pleased with the assignment to Dobbins, because its trademark plane—the C-130s built next door at Lockheed Martin—is the one he’s flown for much of his career.

“The last eight years, (I’ve) been doing staff work, but it’s great to come back to the operational units. It’s great to be here in Cobb County,” Larson said.

And if all goes well, next month Larson will be back in the captain’s seat, piloting a C-130 over his new home.

“They get to trust me around airplanes again,” he said with a smile.

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