by Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
1/17/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- During a change-of-command ceremony Dec. 5, Col. Eric S. Overturf assumed command of the 442nd Fighter Wing from Col. Mark L. Clemons.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla talked about how this transition resembles a similar change in leadership that took place in the New York Yankees organization when Mickey Mantle replaced Joe DiMaggio as the team clipper.
The team already had a reputation of excellence, which the rookie, Mantle, only needed to further - a sentiment that is echoed throughout the 442nd FW.
"We already have an outstanding wing that is moving in the right direction," 442nd FW Command Chief Master Sgt. Allan Sturges said. "I'm sure when it's all said and done, Colonel Overturf will leave it better than he found it."
Colonel Overturf said he has set short-term goals to get to know the men and women of the 442nd FW. He said he plans to spend a few weeks getting to know the groups and become familiar with the Citizen Airmen here.
"There are so many people doing great things around here," Colonel Overturf said. "I don't need to come in and fix anything right off the bat."
The new commander said the long-term goals are clear, and he is optimistic as he anticipates an outstanding score on the operational readiness inspection phase I, preparation for unit-compliance and health-services inspections, and builds the biggest fighter wing in the Air Force Reserve, comprised of: The 476th Fighter Group, Moody AFB, Ga.; the 917th Wing, Barksdale AFB, La.; the 924th Fighter Wing, Davis-Montham AFB, Ariz.; and the 610th Intelligence Operations Flight, Offutt AFB, Neb.
"If there is a challenge ahead of us, it's me," Colonel Overturf said. "The only obstacle is time for me to get adjusted, but I don't expect it to take very long for me to get my feet on the ground."
Colonel Overturf said he is looking forward to resuming where Colonel Clemons left off and hopes to propel the 442nd FW to the next level.
"My wife, Karla, and I are so excited about being here at the best job in the Air Force Reserve, and I feel very lucky to have it," Colonel Overturf said.
Lt. Col. Michael Wood, 442nd Maintenance Group commander, served with the commander in a smaller organization at Elmendorf AFB and said he embraces the new wing commander's leadership style.
"We can expect him to be very active with the community as well as Team Whiteman," Colonel Wood said. "Colonel Overturf is huge on total-force integration, which helps us all to get better."
The Air Force Reserve maintains a tradition of superiority in an ever-changing world, and the 442nd FW has experienced a superior change in the midst of an excellent tradition.