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{span id=”spanCaption”}U.S. Air Force Col. Chris J. Southard assumes command of the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard in a ceremony scheduled for Aug. 29, 2021 at Buckley Space Force Base. Southard previously served as the Vice Wing Commander for the Wing. (Stock photo){/span}

The Colorado Air National Guard’s 140th Wing will see a shuffle in leadership Sunday as a new colonel assumes command.

After two years at the helm of the lead Air National Guard wing, Col. Micah Fesler will hand the 140th over to his vice commander, Col. Christopher Southard, during a change of command ceremony scheduled for Sunday at Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora.

Southard was appointed vice commander of the wing in June of 2020. In that job, he helped Fesler manage personnel and missions, which include Air Force Space Command and Air Combat Command missions, and was responsible for overseeing wing inspections.

His assignments before becoming the 140th Wing’s commander include a stint leading the 120th Fighter Squadron, where he guided the unit on a deployment to Kadena Air Base in Japan. Between 2017 and 2019, he served as the 140th Wing’s Operations Group commander, and deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, where he served as the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group deputy commander alongside active-duty mission partners.

Southard, known as “Wedge” in the air, has around 3,200 flight hours, and has flown T-37s, T-38s, and F-16 jets. He’s married, and is a father of two.

Fesler, the outgoing commander, assumed leadership of the wing in August of 2019 and helped guide it to becoming a lead wing in the U.S. Air National Guard for agile combat employment, a warfighting concept the U.S. Air Force began to adopt in 2017. Fesler also led the wing through the first 1 1/2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also saw the wing’s 138th Space Control Squadron through its first combat deployment.

Fesler was instrumental in the wing’s efforts to support some of the largest operations it’s carried out in Colorado, including providing over 700 personnel to support the state’s response to the spread of COVID-19 and the presidential inauguration, according to a press release.

The 140th Wing, which became part of the Colorado Air National Guard in 1946, flies F-16 jets under Air Combat Command and “stands alert 24/7 to protect the central U.S. from airborne threats.” The wing operates two space missions — one an early-warning ground system for missiles and, another a space control squadron stationed at Peterson Space Force Base.

“The 1,600 personnel that fall under three Air Force major commands provide our nation with fighter, space-based early missile warning, and support forces capable of global employment,” Colorado National Guard officials said in a press release.

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