06/01/12 — Col. Jeannie Leavitt officially takes command of the 4th Fighter Wing

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Col. Jeannie Leavitt officially takes command of the 4th Fighter Wing

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 1, 2012 1:46 PM

News-Argus Video Report

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Col. Jeannie Leavitt, right, salutes 9th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells after assuming command of the 4th Fighter Wing this morning. Leavitt, the Air Force's first female fighter pilot, became the first female named to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's top post.

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Col. Leavitt addresses members of the 4th for the first time as their commander.

A new page was added to the Air Force history books this morning -- and it only took three words.

Col. Jeannie Leavitt became the first female to take command of the storied 4th Fighter Wing during a ceremony held just hours ago on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

But it was not official until, after placing her hands on the unit's guidon, she looked into the 9th Air Force commander's eyes and affirmed her intentions.

"I assume command," she said.

Moments later, the men and women she is now charged with leading saluted her for the first time.

And they should be confident, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells said, in her ability to pick up where outgoing Commander Col. Patrick Doherty left off.

She is, as he put it, a well-prepared warrior with combat experience that will serve her well in the most daunting assignment of her career.

And having flown alongside her in the skies over Iraq in 1996, he should know.

So after Leavitt handed off the guidon to her new command chief, both Wells and Doherty stepped aside.

They knew the time had come to give the colonel her moment.

Leavitt began by thanking Doherty for "an incredible run" -- for posturing the wing for the success she hopes it will realize under her watch.

And she recognized those family members and mentors who have supported her over the course of a journey that saw her named, among other things, the Air Force's first female fighter pilot.

But her focus turned, rather quickly, to those she will guide for the next two years -- to both the comrades she served with during her stint as 333rd Fighter Squadron commander and those airmen she has not yet met.

"If you have ever dreamed of being a part of something bigger than yourself, the time is now," she said. "Our continued success depends on each and every one of you."