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GEN. EDWARD RICE, left, symbolically hands over command of Luke Air Force Base to Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein while outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., right, watches during the change of command ceremony Wednesday at Luke Air Force Base. The change of command ceremony is an elaborate tradition that takes place whenever a new commander takes charge of the base.
Luke AFB changes command New leader to welcome F-35 jets late next year
by Emily McCann staff writer
Luke Air Force Base’s outgoing wing commander laid the foundation for the new F-35 fighter jet, and now it’s up to his replacement to do the dirty work and prepare for its arrival. In a change of command ceremony held
Wednesday at the base, Brig. Gen. Jerry Harris Jr., 48, handed over control to Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, 45. The wing switches leaders every two years. “To say that the last two years have been full of challenges for Brig. Gen. Harris and this wing would be to grossly understate the magnitude of all that they have accomplished,” said Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command.
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Under the direction of Harris, Luke generated more training flights than any other F-16 wing in the U.S. Air Force, had the best environmental safety occupational health compliant assessment management program results in eight years, achieved an “outstanding” rating during its 2011 health services inspection and an “excellent” for its unit compliance inspection. Operationally over the last two years, Luke
deployed more than 1,000 airmen to combat locations around the world.
STAFF SGT. PAUL BEllGRAPH reveals Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein’s name stenciled on the side of an F-16 during the ceremony.
Harris will now move on to serve as vice commander of Fifth Air Force, a tenant unit at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. “You might wonder at this point whether there
is anyone who can fill those big shoes that he has worn over the past two years,” Rice said. “The answer to that question is both yes and no. There is someone else who is more than capable of taking on the significant challenges of the 56th Fighter Wing, but that airman is not here to
fill anyone else’s shoes. He came with his own set of flight rules, and he will use those to make his own footprint on this organization.” This is the second time Rice has hired Rothstein to command a wing under his authority and said, “I am fully confident he will make my judgment look good again during his tenure with the 56th.” Rothstein’s previous assignment was commander of the 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base in Japan, where he oversaw a combat- ready F-16CJ fighter wing composed of about 3,100 personnel, and sustained forces and facilities worth more than $2 billion. “In my best cost-conscious culture straight face, let it be known that I did offer to save the Air Force tons of money and have Brig. Gen. Rothstein move about 50 miles south from Misawa to Tokyo, Japan,” Harris joked during his speech. “Obviously he didn’t take me up on that offer.” Rothstein is a career F-16 pilot with almost 2,500 flying hours. His wife, Jennifer, and their three sons, Seth, 13, Burke, 11, and Jackson, 7, made the move to Arizona with him. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and has a
(See Command on Page 2)
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