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MILWAUKEE — The 128th Air Refueling Wing welcomed Col. James Locke as their new commander during a July 15 change of command ceremony held at General Mitchell Airfield.

Locke assumed command of the 128th Air Refueling Wing from Col. Dan Yenchesky in a ceremony officiated by Brig. Gen. Gary Ebben, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Air.

“It is not without the support of our families, friends and champions in our communities that this organization is able to perform its mission on behalf of our nation and in the cause of freedom,” Locke said. He went on to thank his family and special guests.

Locke expressed his appreciation to Yenchesky for empowering the Wing, delivering mission assurance in support of state disaster response and for his support of combatant commanders across the globe.

Lauding the Wing’s long list of state and federal mission support, Locke reminded service members that “big things are happening in history and we are a part of it. The KC-135 Stratotankers out there on the ramp, if they could speak, we would be in awe of where they have been and the things they have been a witness to.”

In closing, Locke promised the men and women of the 128th Air Refueling Wing that he will “have your back in the next chapter of the 128th’s history” and led the audience in reciting the Airman’s Creed.

Previously Locke served as the 128th Air Refueling Wing’s vice wing. The refueling unit is responsible for maintaining worldwide unit readiness for KC-135 combat support operations.

Locke received his commission in 1989 after graduating from the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at California State University, Sacramento. He is a command pilot with more than 3,100 flying hours.

Yenchesky will now serve as the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s chief of staff at the Wisconsin Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.

The change of command ceremony is rooted in military history dating back to the 18th century. The unit’s unique organizational flag is passed to the individual assuming the command to symbolize the assumption of the duties and responsibilities the come with the position.