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Col. Aufderheide assumes command of 940 ARW

Col. Erik Aufderheide assumes command of the 940th Air Refueling Wing June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Col. Erik Aufderheide assumes command of the 940th Air Refueling Wing June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. Prior to assuming command, Aufderheide was the reserve advisor to the deputy chief of staff, operations (AF/A3) at Headquarters U.S. Air Force Pentagon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tara R. Abrahams)

Col. Jeffrey Downs relinquishes command of the 940th Air Refueling Wing June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Col. Jeffrey Downs relinquishes command of the 940th Air Refueling Wing June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. This was Downs’ final assignment before retiring with 28 years of active-duty service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tara R. Abrahams)

Col. Erik Aufderheide, 940th Air Refueling Wing commander, gives his family gifts during a change of command ceremony June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Col. Erik Aufderheide, 940th Air Refueling Wing commander, gives his family gifts during a change of command ceremony June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. Aufderheide assumed command of the unit from Col. Jeffrey Downs during a change of command ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tara R. Abrahams)

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Pennington, Fourth Air Force commander from March Air Reserve Base, California, speaks during a change of command ceremony June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Pennington, Fourth Air Force commander from March Air Reserve Base, California, speaks during a change of command ceremony June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. Pennington served as the presiding officer as Col. Erik Aufderheide assumed command of the 940th Air Refueling Wing from Col. Jeffrey Downs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tara R. Abrahams)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California --

Col. Erik L. Aufderheide assumed command of the 940th Air Refueling Wing from Col. Jeffrey J. Downs during a change of command ceremony June 12, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey T. Pennington, Fourth Air Force commander, March Air Reserve Base, California, presided over the event. He thanked the members of the 940 ARW and Downs for their service throughout the pandemic, wildfires and all other challenges they faced.

“To lead a mission conversion of a unit with a service is a tall order,” Pennington said to Downs. “You have done a magnificent job.”

This was Downs’ last assignment before his retirement with 28 years of active-duty service in the military. In his final speech, he thanked his family, the Airmen of the wing and his leadership for allowing him to grow, and for the help they provided him along the way.

“I could not have done it without you,” he said. “From the bottom to the top, you guys really stepped up and took charge. You had some amazing accomplishments despite the limitations… this wing is ready to fight.”

After Downs gave his final words, he passed the wing to Aufderheide. Then the new commander addressed the Beale family.

“This is truly more than a job for most of you,” he said to the reservists. “You place your business and family on hold to serve your nation. Why? Because you know you’re doing something with your life that matters… As defending ones nation is defending family, friends and employer.”

He went on to explain his priorities as the new wing commander, beginning with family.

“This is the primary leg of the three-legged stool of reserve service: family, civilian occupation and reserve Air Force duty. My job, as I see it, is to help you accomplish these in order of priority.”

Auferheide, a reservist himself, expressed how family and home life are the most important.

“As commander, I’ve got to take care of your family first because if you’re worried about your family, and their health and safety, I understand we become less effective in the Air Force mission. I would not expect anyone to place anything above the needs of their family because there is no amount of success that can compensate for failure at home.”

He went on to talk about his other two priorities, the reservist’s civilian occupation, and the “incredibly cool” and “fascinating” mission of the Air Force. He concluded with excitement and eagerness to be a part of the 940 ARW.

“You are nuclear warriors and I am proud to be part of this team,” Aufderheide said. “Stay ready. We’re ready now, and we will remain ready... I am truly honored and privileged to become your new commander.”