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4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Col. Donn C. Yates, 4th Fighter Wing outgoing commander, reflects during the 4 FW change of command ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. Yates is retiring after nearly 28 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, Ninth Air Force commander, and Col. Donn C. Yates, 4th Fighter Wing outgoing commander, listen to Yates’ Legion of Merit decoration citation during the 4 FW change of command ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. The 4 FW change of command ceremony also highlighted the illustrious 28-year military career of the outgoing commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Col. Donn C. Yates, 4th Fighter Wing outgoing commander, speaks to attendees during the 4 FW change of command ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. In his speech, Yates welcomed the incoming commander, Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine, and thanked his family, wing leadership and Team Seymour for the experiences and lessons he gained as the wing commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Col. Donn C. Yates, 4th Fighter Wing outgoing commander, salutes Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, Ninth Air Force commander, before relieving his command as the 4 FW commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. Yates relieved command to Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Col. Donn C. Yates, 4th Fighter Wing outgoing commander, renders a final salute to Col. Brian R. Montgomery, vice wing commander, and other leaders during the 4 FW change of command ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. Yates is retiring after nearly 28 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, Ninth Air Force commander (left), Col. Donn C. Yates, 4th Fighter Wing outgoing commander (center), and Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine, incoming 4 FW commander (right), listen as the 4 FW change of command ceremony citation is read at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. The 4 FW change of command ceremony highlighted the 28-year military career of Yates, and honorably welcomed Helphinstine as the new 4 FW commander, before family, wing leadership and Team Seymour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, Ninth Air Force commander, hands the guidon to Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine, incoming 4th Fighter Wing commander, during the 4 FW change of command ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. Helphinstine was previously deputy commander for operations at the 366th Fighter Wing in Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine, 4th Fighter Wing commander, renders a salute to Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, Ninth Air Force commander, as the new 4 FW commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. Helphinstine was previously deputy commander for operations at the 366th Fighter Wing in Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

4th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony

Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine, 4th Fighter Wing commander, speaks at the 4 FW change of command ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020. As the commander of the 4 FW, Helphinstine is responsible for the organization, training and deployment of one of the largest fighter wings in the United States Air Force, consisting of nearly 7,000 Airmen and civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenneth Boyton)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

U.S. Air Force Col. Kurt Helphinstine took command of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, July 2, 2020.


Col. Donn Yates relinquished command as he retires from the Air Force after nearly 28 years of service.


“I remember the first time I came through these gates, I couldn’t believe I was going to learn to fly,” said Yates. “Being the commander of the 4th Fighter Wing has been the adventure of a lifetime, and we have accomplished so much. The wing is in great hands with Col. Helphinstine, and I will hold you all in my heart as you go forward and lead the way; setting the standard, and breaking barriers.”


Helphinstine, an F-15 Command Pilot with 2700 flight hours and 905 combat hours, is coming from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where he served as the Deputy Commander of Operations since 2018.


“I cannot wait to build on the foundation of lethality, readiness, and professionalism that Col. Yates has reinforced throughout our Wing,” said Helphinstine. “Together, we will transform the 4th Fighter Wing into a lead wing; prepared to rapidly blunt and defeat the baddest, finest and meanest of enemy. Let’s get to work.”
Helphinstine also praised Yates for his leadership.


“The 4 FW is blessed to have been led by the finest, most selfless and transformational leader in the Air Force.”


Helphinstine will now head the 4th Fighter Wing, which encompasses one of the Air Force’s largest fighter wings, with 94 F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft and nearly 7,000 total force Airmen.

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