TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — As Tyndall completes dozens of new projects across its base, a new commander can be added to its list of changes.
During a change of command ceremony Friday morning, Tyndall welcomed Col. George R. Watkins as the new commander of the 325th Fighter Wing.
County and military officials watched as Maj. Gen. Michael Koscheski handed command to Watkins from Col. Gregory M. Moseley. The ceremony takes place every two years, deeply rooted in military tradition and meant to establish the authority of the oncoming leader.
Watkins will serve as commander of the 325th, which has a strong history at Tyndall since July 1981. The fighter wing's primary mission is to train and project unrivaled combat power, and as commander, Watkins will head the operation.
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Watkins is arriving from the 56th Operations Group at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where he oversaw operations for the Air Force's largest operations group comprised of 12 squadrons and more than 170 F-16 and F-35A aircraft.
With more than 22 years of Air Force experience, he boasts an extensive military education and is highly decorated with such medals as the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Medal.
Watkins said he is excited to step into the role and continue rebuilding Tyndall as the base of the future.
"I'm really excited to be here. My family and I are super thrilled to be a part of the community and join Team Tyndall," Watkins said. "And over the next few years, hope to just continue the rebuild process for the base of the future. The team and the airmen that have been working hard here are doing a great job cleaning up from Hurricane Michael back in 2018."
Moseley joined the Tyndall team in 2020 and was influential throughout the base's rebuild efforts. Watkins said Moseley did an amazing job and he hopes to pick up where Moseley left off.
"There's a lot of work to be done, we all recognize that. ... We're gonna start a lot more construction phases coming up," Watkins said. "I didn't do any of that work, I'm just showing up here. I'm gonna lean on Team Tyndall, the community, everyone to pitch in and continue to make this place what we all envision it to be, which is the base of the future."
Tyndall is experiencing an amazing revitalization since the historic hurricane. Base officials recently signed the largest military construction contract in Air Force history to take the rebuild to new heights with 11 facilities for F-35A Lightning II jets arriving late next year.
Watkins said there are many projects he is looking forward to in the near future.
"We're starting a phase to rebuild the entire flightline. ... That's going to be a big focus because the flightline is where the rubber meets the road," Watkins said. "We're going to be getting jets in the next couple of years. I'm an F-35 pilot, so I'm super excited to be bringing the F-35s on board. ... We have a lot of work to do to get ready for that."
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Tyndall welcomes Col. Watkins as commander of 325th Fighter Wing