command

Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski, left, Fifteenth Air Force commander, passes the guidon to Col. Lucas Teel, incoming 4th Fighter Wing commander, as he assumes command of the 4th Fighter Wing during a Change of Command ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, May 11.

Col. Lucas J. Teel assumed command of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base from Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine in a ceremony May 11.

Helphinstine, commander of the 4th Fighter Wing since July 2020, has been assigned as executive officer to the chief of staff of the Air Force at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

Teel came to Seymour Johnson from his position as vice commander of the 336th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. He returns to the base for a third time, having previously trained in the F-15E Strike Eagle and also been assigned to the 335th Fighter Squadron here from 2005 to 2009.

Giving his final farewell to the base, Helphinstine told those attending the change of command ceremony that it’s incredible to see what a base can do when it has a community like Goldsboro and Wayne County behind it.

“It’s incredible to see the military support at all levels, to see people care for our airmen downtown and at work and also see a community come together to meet the leading concerns of our airmen, which are and probably always will be, schools, housing availability and child care options,” he said.

Helphinstine also thanked those stationed at the base for their dedication to the mission, which he said was exceptional.

“You’re rapidly transforming the 4FW into a lead wing that is truly lethal and ready,” he said.

“It’s been an absolute honor.”

Helphinstine received one final salute from the airmen attending the ceremony.

Teel received his first salute as the new 4FW commander from those attending

He said it was a beautiful and great day to rejoin the ranks of the 4FW in “awesome” Goldsboro. He said he and his family have received a warm welcome from the base and the community.

“I am personally humbled and honored for the chance to serve alongside the men and women of the 4FW, as well as friends and community partners,” Teel said.

He also thanked the Military Affairs Committee partners, saying he was looking forward to working with them over the next two years.

And he thanked his family for its support.

“You have led this wing boldly and have advanced the mission and our families over the last two years,” Teel told Helphinstine.

He said he could not have asked for a more engaged and supportive community than Goldsboro.

“The men and the women of the 4FW, we live, we work, we learn and we play with you all,” he said. “You have the backs of the men and women of the 4FW.

“To members of the 916th Air Refueling Wing and 414 Fighter Group, I’ve seen how our partnerships have fostered each other’s success over the years. And I look forward to strengthening these ties and looking for more ops to partner together.”

Teel said he was thankful and honored to serve alongside the men and women of the 4FW.

“We’ll continue to train world-class Strike Eagle crews,” he said. “We need to train and operate as a team and in innovative ways.

“Now — more than ever — air power is a team sport. And in the 4th, this is built on a bedrock of trust and empowerment at every level, while always taking care of our airmen and families.”

Speaker for the change of command ceremony was Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski, commander of the 15th Air Force, who also spent six years of his military career at Seymour Johnson AFB.

He thanked Helphinstine for his leadership during these unprecedented times and welcomed Teel to the base.

Koscheski said Helphinstine’s steady leadership kept the men and women of the 4FW “professional, lethal and ready to take care of our nation’s business every day.

“You led the 4FW during one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history filled with unpredictable events that required decisive leadership,” Koscheski said. “And you never lost sight of the airmen of the 4FW, investing in our kids, their schools, their gyms and Fort Fisher Recreation Area, all which helped connect the 4FW to the community like never before.”

He also told those attending the change of command that “our airmen deserve great leadership and that’s what they will get with Col. Lucas ‘Shack’ Teel. Shack comes to us with an impressive resume and is no stranger to the 4FW.”

Also during the ceremony, Capt. Jonathan Kay gave some history of the ceremony.

“The change of command ceremony is a military tradition deeply rooted in history, and dates back to the time of Roman Legions,” he said. “In that period, military organizations developed flags that were unique to the organization with specialized colors and designs.”

Kay said that when the warriors followed their leader into battle, they kept sight of their flag. And if the banner was still waved after the conflict, it was a sign that their side had not experienced defeat in battle.

He explained that because of its importance, the flag was incorporated into the change of command ceremony.

“The modern-day ceremony is principally symbolic and still indicates to all the authority of the incoming commander,” Kay said.

During the change of command ceremony, the outgoing commander, Helphinstine, surrendered the flag saying, “Sir, I relinquish command.”

The flag was then passed to the new commander, Teel, who said, “Sir, I assume command.”

It was done in front of the unit so everyone could see and witness the new commander assuming his dutiful position.

“This symbolic tradition has survived throughout military history, and this morning will serve as a key event of this solemn military ceremony,” Kay said.

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