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Lt. Gen. Helms takes command - twice

Lt. Gen. Susan Helms taking command of the 14th Air Force Jan. 21, served as the 45th Space Wing commander from June 2006 to October 2008.

Lt. Gen. Susan Helms taking command of the 14th Air Force Jan. 21, served as the 45th Space Wing commander from June 2006 to October 2008.

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, a former commander of the 45th Space Wing had a pretty good day last Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Not only was she named commander of both the Joint Functional Com-ponent Command for Space (JFCC Space) and the 14th Air Force, she also earned her third star just prior to the change of command ceremony.

General Helms, the first woman and former astronaut to serve in this position, assumed command from Lt. Gen. Larry James, who is leaving to take an assignment as Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at the Pentagon.

The presiding officers for the ceremony were Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command.

"While her career has taken her to un-precedented heights, she is down to earth, highly successful. She is the perfect person to take this command at this time in history," Gen. Chilton said.

Gen. Shelton, who recently took the helm of AFSPC, then handed her the guidon for the 14th Air Force.

"The scope of this command is truly global and beyond," said Gen. Shelton, a former 14th Air Force commander.

"I know you are the right officer to lead this team to even greater heights," Gen. Shelton told Gen. Helms.

Gen. Helms, who commanded the 45th Space Wing from June 2006 to October 2008, has spent the past 26 months serving as the Director of Plans and Policy, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Neb.

"Space was once accessible by only a few select countries ... but now it is the high ground for 50-plus space-faring nations," Gen. Helms said.

"Most importantly, there are Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen in harm's way all around the world, all of whom deeply leverage our space advantage to keep the initiative and win the fight," Gen. Helms added. "We, the men and women of JFCC-Space and 14th Air Force have an obligation to ensure that we support the warfighter to the absolute best of our abilities."

Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander, 45th Space Wing, said the local team is fully aware of the skill Gen.Helms brings to the fight.

"General Helms knows this Wing, she knows the Space Coast, and she knows Space," Gen. Wilson said. "Our Air Force is blessed to have an officer with her talents. She is the right officer at the right time to lead 14th Air Force into the future, and we're awfully proud to have a Shark alum as our Commander."