New commander takes the reigns of "Americas Wing" in his third tour at Tinker
By Maj. Jon Quinlan, Tinker Public Affairs
/ Published June 20, 2013
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Col. Jay Bickley assumed command of the 552nd Air Control Wing from Col. Gregory Guillot during a change-of-command ceremony here June 13.
Bickley is no stranger to Tinker, Americas Wing or command. This is his third tour at Tinker AFB.
He now leads more than 5,000 men and women, providing worldwide command and control operating the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System and ground based Control and Reporting Centers.
The commander of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), Lt. Gen. Robin Rand presided over the ceremony. He spoke first to the Airmen of the wing, highlighting the importance of what they do and the mission of the 552nd ACW.
"AWACS and Command and Reporting Centers have protected our Airmen, our Soldiers, our Marines and our Sailors during the last 23 years of sustained combat operations. You do more than combat contingencies though," General Rand said. "Our neighborhoods...are safer because of the missions you fly to interdict illicit drug trafficking in Central and South America. To say that I'm proud of you is an understatement."
The general also highlighted the professionalism of the wing members during the recent tragedies of losing a fellow Airman and then dealing with the devastating tornados that affected the local community in May.
"Despite the terrible loss and the tragedy that has been inflicted on you in these recent weeks, the way you have conducted business is a true testament to your professionalism and I've seen it first-hand," General Rand said.
The new 552nd ACW Commander, Col. Bickley is combat proven in AWACS and is more than ready for this command, according to General Rand.
"He has incredible insight into the Headquarters Air Force, joint and coalition operations and he is the perfect selection to lead America's wing during our next evolution of warfare," Rand said. "He has already aced command at the squadron and group level. Bottom line, this wing and Team Tinker are incredibly fortunate to have his skills as their new commander."
Col. Bickley is a combat pilot with over 4,500 flying hours. From June 2011-June 2012, he commanded the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group in Southwest Asia leading Airmen operating the E-3 Sentry, F-22, F-15, U-2, RQ-4, MQ-1, and KC-10 aircraft in combat operations.
The general also recognized Col. Guillot for his steadfast leadership in the past year.
"With command, comes great challenges. (Col. Guillot), you have achieved much success but as is often the case you have faced difficult adversity and great loss over the past year," Rand said. "Without exception during the hard times your remarkable character shined through and your leadership soared."
After taking the 552nd ACW guidon and with it, command of the wing, Col. Bickley said when he and his wife, Karla return to Oklahoma, it always feels like home.
"We first arrived here in February of 1992 and since that first assignment, Oklahoma City and the great state of Oklahoma has a special place in our hearts," Bickley said.
In response to the recent fiscal challenges in the Air Force, Col Bickley said that this could be the Air Forces finest hour.
"We could emerge on the other side as a leaner more lethal force, ready to respond to future threats and to dominate those threats in air, space, and cyberspace and any other imaginable domain," Bickley said. "I believe this because I've seen what our Airman are capable of. I've seen the ingenuity and no fail attitudes of the best collection of men and women that America has to offer."
Colonel Bickley closed with thanking the Airmen and explaining that, "There is nowhere I would rather be than with you, the men and women of the 552nd ACW."
Departing 552nd Commander, Colonel Guillot will next lead the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.