Brig. Gen. Bolton takes command of 45th Space Wing
By Chris Calkins, 45th SW Public Affairs
/ Published October 31, 2008
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton, Jr. assumed command of the 45th Space Wing from Brig. Gen. Susan J. Helms during a change of command ceremony held Tuesday morning at Memorial Plaza.
Lt. Gen. William L. Shelton, 14th Air Force commander, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was the presiding officer.
Gen. Shelton praised Gen. Helms' performance by saying to her, "It's clear you've put your heart and soul into this wing, and it has clearly borne fruit. I know how difficult it is for you to give up the reins today. But I hope that sadness gives way to justifiable pride just a few miles down the road, because it's hard to imagine anyone doing it better."
Gen. Helms will be moving on to Offut AFB, Neb., where she will serve as Director, Plans and Policy, U.S. Strategic Command. Gen. Shelton also praised her flawless supervision of 27 consecutive successful launches and her being named the winner of the prestigious Thomas D. White award, presented annually to a U.S. citizen who has contributed significantly to the national defense of the United States.
But the general also said Gen. Bolton's experience, education and command background make him the perfect choice to carry on the excellence that the 45th Space Wing is noted for.
"On a scale of 1 to 10 for a good DNA match to this job, I'd say Gen. Bolton is an easy 10," Gen. Shelton said.
"This is a great place to live, a wonderful mission, and you get to launch rockets that literally carry pillars of our national security into space. Can it get any better than that?" he asked with a smile.
Prior to assuming command, Gen. Bolton served as the Deputy Director of Systems Integration and Engineering at the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly, Va., since August 2006.
The new wing commander said he is thrilled to be getting this opportunity - and he made that clear in his opening comments.
"General Shelton, thank you and General Kehler (Commander, Air Force Space Command) for entrusting me with this sacred honor; I won't let you down," he said.
Gen. Bolton began his Air Force career as an enlisted cost and management analyst. In 1980, he was selected for the Airmen Education and Commissioning Program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1983 after completing an electrical engineering degree and Officer Training School.
"I want you to know a bit about my heritage and how I got here because more than anything I am one of you," he said. "And because of that connection, I care not just about this mission, but about the people who do the work and the community that we share," said the general.
He also talked about upcoming challenges the Air Force - and the 45th Space Wing in particular - will be facing in the near and not-so-near future.
"We are in a time of tremendous change, a changing national security environment, a changing economy, a need to change into a more efficient enterprise - but with a requirement to maintain the same level of success," he said.
He also said that our nation has seen this kind of thing before, and he believes this wing has the "right stuff" to meet these challenges head-on.
"I believe in this mission and the need for a renewed focus on the fundamental training, preparation and team work that makes mission success possible. I believe that because if you get the mission right, everything else is possible," Gen. Bolton said.
"But I also believe in the future of this mission as a key contributor to our national security and I believe commercial space will ultimately help our economic growth," he said.
"Most importantly, though, I believe in you - the people who actually do all the hard work. That's exactly why I intend to go on a 'listening tour' to make sure I understand not only your perspectives and issues, but your beliefs as we work together to execute and improve this enterprise that we all love. And to lay the foundation for an ever brighter future," he said.
"And while it's true that I am a 'launch and range guy' this is also a homecoming for me, because we have so many close family members already living here in Florida, and my family has been here for generations. This really is a dream assignment for me; I'm just so delighted to be part of this fantastic team," he said.
"This was never a goal, but always a dream" he said.
Proof positive that dreams sometimes come true.