Wing CC bids farewell to 53d, Eglin, local area

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
  • 53d Wing Public Affairs
Only minutes before the 53d Wing change of command ceremony in 2006, Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein, then commander of the United States Air Force Warfare Center, gave the 'new guy' and first-time wing commander, Col. Ken Wilsbach a little advice and direction before he would officially start his command. His words were, "make a steady improvement."

"That was always my number one objective," said the colonel, reflecting back on that day. "And I take no credit in this, it was the people of this wing that made that happen, and not always steady ... sometimes aggressive improvements over the last two years."
Those improvements included creating new efficiencies when forced to cut 200 positions wing-wide. The wing also fielded the A-10C which upgraded the aircraft with precision weapons.

"It can now fire almost all the weapons the F-16 can ... it's nearly a new airplane," said the colonel who leaves sunny Florida for the more tropical climate of Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

There were also major software upgrades for the F-16 and F-15C and E. Another accomplishment wrapping up just after the colonel leaves is the test completion of the Sniper pod on the B-1B Lancer. If the tests go well, the B-1s will deploy with the new targeting pod capability.

"Every week I get a synopsis of what's going on in the wing, and every week I'm impressed by what our people are accomplishing," said Colonel Wilsbach, who left Pacific Air Forces as a squadron commander and returns to a headquarters staff position after six years. "As I leave, I'm most proud of the professionalism of our folks. We ask our people to create and execute things that have never been done before and sometimes at high risk. They accomplished these tasks without losing an aircraft or a person."

Although the climate change shouldn't be a difficult one, leaving the local area after nearly four years will prove hard.

"I'm afraid Cindy and I have put down some very deep roots here," said the colonel, who left the 33rd Operations Group, to take command of the wing in 2006. "The local community has been so good to the 53d Wing and so kind to Cindy and me. We've really grown to love this area."

Along with the community, he regrets having to leave the people of the 53d.

"I'll miss them tremendously," said Colonel Wilsbach. "As their commander, they honored me with their followership, but at the same time they gave me good advice if I didn't have the whole picture. To sum it up all I can say is ... thank you."

Just as he was given guidance on the eve of his change of command, the colonel had some simple advice for the next 'new guy' taking the reins.

"Give them (people of the wing) broad direction and vision and watch them go," he said.