August 7, 2018 10:51:01 AM
Mary Pollitz - [email protected]
Col. Samantha "Combo" Weeks officially took the reins at Columbus Air Force Base Monday morning during the Change of Command ceremony.
She is a former CAFB student and the first female commander at the base in almost two decades. The base changes commanders every two years.
Weeks replaces Col. Douglas "Goz" Gosney, who is retiring from the Air Force after serving as commander in Columbus since July 2016. Weeks commended Gosney on his success with CAFB and looks forward to her role.
"We are excited to continue the excellent work of Goz and Beth Gosney, to produce pilots and advance airmen," Weeks said. "It takes each and every one of us working diligently and faithfully in our area of expertise to accomplish the mission. I promise to work endlessly to ensure that you have organized training equipped to do your job."
Weeks previously served as commander for the 57th Adversary Tactics Group at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Weeks is a command pilot with more than 2,200 flight hours and 105 combat hours. Weeks also served as a demonstration pilot for the Thunderbirds.
Col. Marne Peterson served as CAFB's last female commander from 1998-2000, and Weeks was a student at CAFB during the first year of Peterson's tenure.
Yet, Weeks said she doesn't view her new command post through the gender lens.
"I'm an airmen first, I happen to be a pilot and I just happen to be a woman," Weeks said. "It's an opportunity for me to share what our Air Force does every single day and every capacity and job that we have."
Weeks said she sees the opportunity as "awe-inspiring" and is excited about returning to Columbus.
"There are things that have definitely changed and evolved," she said. "But I can say, there are still things that have remained the same, and that is the community involvement, the focus on students and the expertise that we provide in training to make sure we produce pilots."
Since her arrival, Weeks said, Columbus has lived up to its "Friendly City" mantra, and she vowed to be a partner in strengthening community ties with the base.
"(I will) look for new, innovative ways that we can build connections with our community as well as continue to develop our airmen and produce pilots," Weeks said. "Ultimately right now, we are in a pilot shortage and that is what our nation needs from us."
Weeks enters the base with her two sons and husband, Steve Broderick. Broderick, a retired pilot, now flies commercial flights for a major airline.
"I am humbled beyond words and measure at the opportunity granted to me today, to take command of the 14th Flying Training Wing," Weeks said. "It's obvious the connections between the base and the community is one of the strongest partnerships that any wing could ask for. We look forward to getting to experience all that Columbus has to offer from a family and professional standpoint."
During the ceremony, Gosney credited numerous facets of CAFB. Though he said he will miss CAFB, he is confident Weeks has the leadership for the position.
"I know Col. Combo Weeks is the right person for the job and will do great things for Blaze Nation and take us to a higher level," Gosney said. "Welcome to the family, you're going to absolutely love it."
During Gosney's command, the 14th Flying Training Wing trained and graduated 619 pilots -- nearly one-third of the U.S. Air Force's pilot production -- and 175 wingmen. The 14th FTW also trained 98 international officers under Gosney.
CAFB was the Air Force's busiest airfield for the past two years, with pilots logging more than 150,000 flight hours. Gosney also oversaw the execution of a new, specialized undergraduate pilot training syllabus and course redesign that aims to increase the Air Force pilot production by more than 300 pilots per year.
While in Columbus, Gosney said he noticed an environment he will carry with him when he leaves.
"The many partnerships that exist between the base and the surrounding communities is truly special and unlike anything I've seen in my 23 years of service," Gosney said. "Your love and support for the 14th Flying Training Wing is well known across the Air Force. If I could find a way to bottle up the magic sauce that makes this space so special, I would share it with every community that hosts an Air Force Base."
Gosney said he looks forward to seeing the future successes of CAFB after his departure.
"When you win, and you do frequently, you don't dance around and celebrate like this is something new or unique. You don't have to, you've been there before," he said. "It's been my absolute honor and privilege to have been your wingman for the last two years. If I have to end my career, I can think of no place I would rather be than right here. Thank you again for making us feel so special. You will always be part of my family."