Wilson assumes command of 45th Space Wing
By Christopher Calkins, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 18, 2010
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Though threatening clouds and blustery winds forced the change of command ceremony to move inside to the base theater, not even the threat of rain could dampen the spirits of Col. Ed Wilson, who assumed command of the 45th Space Wing Feb. 12 from Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton, Jr., who is moving to a new position in the Pentagon.
The ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, the current commander of the 14th Air Force. Lt. Gen. James said Wilson's prior experience as a leader and commander made him the right Airman at precisely the right time to take over command of the wing and the Eastern Range.
"He understands leadership," Gen. James said. "Ed Wilson is the right person for this job."
The new commander said from his point of view, he and his family could not be happier. After recognizing Lt. Gen. James and thanking Brig. Gen. Bolton, Col. Wilson said he was eager to get to work, and anxious to get to know the people he will be soon be working with at the 45th.
"I found out a long time ago that if we take care of people, they'll take care of the mission," Col. Wilson said prior to the ceremony.
"This really is a dream come true," said Col. Wilson, who flashed an ear-to-ear grin as he spoke for the first time to the standing room only crowd.
Evidently, this wasn't just a dream for the new commander and his immediate family, wife Lisa, and children Burke, 17 and Jordan, 14, who all made the trip from New Mexico, where their father served as the commander of the Space Development and Test Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base.
In all, approximately two dozen members of their extended family made their way to Patrick Air Force Base for the much-looked-forward to event, including his father, Air Force Lt. Col. (Ret.) Burke Wilson, and his mother, Phyllis.
It was announced during the ceremony that five consecutive generations of the new commander's family have served in the military, dating all the way back to the Civil War.
Col. Wilson also took time to recognize the man he is replacing.
"I know for sure that General Bolton felt the same way and he has made it clear I will be working with the best group of Airmen, government civilians and contractors anywhere in the Air Force," he said. "And General Bolton and his wife, Patricia, have done everything possible to make this transition run smoothly," he said.
The day before taking command, Col. Wilson got to sit alongside Gen. Bolton on the console at the Morrell Operations Center and witness the launch of an Atlas V. The launch will allow NASA scientists to obtain new data about the sun.
As a child, Col. Wilson would often travel from his Alabama home to visit his maternal grandparents, who were living in the Daytona Beach vicinity.
"I always heard their stories about the rockets and the launches, but I never got to see one back then," he said. "Now I see one up close last Thursday and take command the next day. That's pretty awesome," he said.
His mother, Phyllis, is happy as well.
She has seen - and prayed - when her husband served as a flight navigator on mostly night time runs over the Ho Chi Minh Trail during his Vietnam service from 1969-70.
She saw him retire after 23 years in the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1978. She has seen her son graduate from the Air Force Academy in 1985, watched him work his way through the ranks, to where he now commands the 45th Space Wing and the Eastern Range.
"He may be your commander now, but he's always been my son," she said with obvious pride. When told this was the "Year of the Air Force Family," she smiled wryly and said, "that's nice; but I have always felt that way for the past 55 years."