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NEWS | Aug. 5, 2010

19th Air Force welcomes new commander

By Staff Sgt. Katie Hickerson 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

Wing commanders from across the country welcomed the new 19th Air Force commander with a salute July 30 during a change-of-command ceremony here.

Maj. Gen. Mark Solo took command of 19th Air Force from Gen. Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander, among friends, family and a cross-section of Airmen and civilians assigned to the command.

General Solo, who replaced Maj. Gen. Gregory Feest, said, "I'm excited to be part of the 19th Air Force, and in a way, it's like coming home to the place where it all started for me as an undergraduate pilot training student. I'm proud to be here, and look forward to doing my part in shaping today's students into tomorrow's combat-ready aircrew members."

The 19th Air Force trains aircrews on 29 different airframes totaling more than 1,800 aircraft.

"Our responsibility at the 19th Air Force is to train tomorrow's aircrews today," General Solo explained. "The goal of this command is to train the aircrews that make up the best Air Force in the world, and our mission is just as important as dropping bombs or delivering cargo overseas, because the 19th Air Force is where the world's greatest Air Force is built."

Before turning over command, General Feest thanked friends, family and coworkers who helped make his tenure a success.

"As I stood here two years ago to take command, I was excited and humbled by the magnitude of the 19th Air Force," General Feest said in his address at the change-of-command ceremony. "It has been an honor for me to command the men and women of the 19th Air Force and this has been one of the best assignments in my Air Force career."

"Since taking command, the 19th Air Force has filled 14,400 contingency deployments and has provided our sister major commands with more than 47,000 trained war fighters, so to all of the men and women of the 19th Air Force, thank you for your commitment to excellence and your devotion to the mission. I can think of no greater privilege than to have been your commander."

General Solo comes to Randolph from Scott Air Force Base, where he served as commander of the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center. He is a command pilot with more than 4,900 hours in the C-141, C-5, KC-135 and C-17 aircraft. General Solo commanded 26 combat support sorties during Operation Desert Storm and through operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom he directed the Joint Logistics Operation Center at the Pentagon. From the National Military Command Center, General Solo coordinated all deployment orders to meet combatant commander requirements for the Global War on Terror.

"My focus here, though, is taking care of people. If you take care of people, the mission takes care of itself," General Solo explained. "Our Air Force is facing the highest operations tempo I've seen in 30 years of service, but our Airmen constantly amaze me with their attitudes and drive."

"I'm both excited and humbled to take over the command from General Feest, and am looking forward to leading the 19th Air Force into the future."