From the mountains to the Gulf – 53d Wing changes command

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
  • 53d Wing Public Affairs
Colonel Steven DePalmer left the peaks and slopes of Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., for the beach front property of the 53d Wing when he took command during a ceremony here April 11 at Hangar 102.

The 23-year veteran took the reins of the 2,000-person wing from Col. Ken Wilsbach, who moves on to the Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Base, Hawaii.

"Colonel DePalmer is the perfect choice to lead the 53d Wing," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Hoog, United States Air Force Warfare Center commander. "As an accomplished fighter pilot, his tactical experience and diversity of accomplishments will allow him to take the 53d to greater heights in the future."

The first-time wing commander said he was humbled and elated about the new opportunity.

"I was over the moon," said the colonel, who served as Vice Director of Operations at North American Aerospace Defense Command before taking command. "With the diversity of this wing, the leading edge technology and advanced weapons, I feel like a kid in a candy store."

His family shares his excitement about the opportunities in the area.

"I'm sure we'll have many outdoor adventures just like in Colorado," said the father of three. "We'll literally be "diving" into this new scene."

Although the new position promises plenty of fun and sun, there is still the task of commanding the wing. In the coming weeks, the colonel says he plans to absorb as much of the wing and it's mission as possible.

"My plan is to immerse myself in the mission, become a contributor, and hopefully lead the 53d Wing to the forefront of the test and evaluation industry," said the F-15E pilot.

The new commander has already developed some strategic plans and goals for the wing. Among them are to explore other testing organizations to find newer and possibly more efficient ways of completing mission objectives and to shine a light on the 53d Wing's accomplishments.

"I want to ensure the 53d receives the recognition it deserves," said Colonel DePalmer with fervor. "What we do affects outcomes not just at the tactical level, but at operational and strategic levels throughout the Air Force."

Colonel DePalmer also added that for him, becoming a wing commander was not about being at the top, it's still all about service.

"I feel so lucky to be at this position," said the colonel. "I want to serve the members of the 53d as a wingman, a leader and a warrior. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work."