Cook takes command of the 944th Fighter Wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lausanne Kinder
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 944th Fighter Wing welcomed their new wing commander during a formal ceremony here June 3.

Col. Kurt Gallegos relinquished command of the wing to Col. Bryan Cook, 944 FW vice commander.

The wing’s guidon was exchanged during the ceremony as a symbolic gesture providing a tangible view of the command authority being transferred from one commander to the next.

The presiding officer was Maj. Gen. Ronald Miller, 10th Air Force commander, who opened with remarks.

“Always there,” Miller said. “As the mission is changed and the wing grows, always there is important. So for all the Airmen out there why are you always here? What is your always there moment? Why are you doing what you’re doing? You have a great mission and it’s only going to get better as we fly fewer F-16s and fly more F-35s. We will always be there as a partner for the 56th Fighter Wing. We will always be there as a partner in the Air Force mission.”

After taking command, Cook, who has been with the 944th since January 2016, addressed the Airmen highlighting his three priorities as the new commander: readiness, Total Force Enterprise, and developing and mentoring our Airmen.

“I need you to be ready,” said Cook. “Ready to deploy, ready both mentally and physically and make sure that that your families are ready.”

He also talked about fostering relationships between the wing and their active duty partners, mentorship as a priority and the three focus areas he would like to improve upon.

“We need to embrace [our heritage] and create our own legacy,” said Cook. “I need every Airman to be a leader both in and out of uniform… I need you to take care of your family not just at home but your Air Force family. Everybody standing next to you in uniform is part of your family.”

Cook concluded by thanking Gallegos for his leadership, mentorship, and friendship throughout the years.

“You showed us how we take care of Airmen, and you’ve been a great leader for the 944th Fighter Wing,” said Cook to Gallegos. “You’ve also been a great mentor to me and many others here and most of all, you’ve been a great friend. I can’t wait to get started. This is a great day and I couldn’t be more proud of our Airmen in the 944th and the missions we accomplish. ”

Under Gallegos’ command, the wing has integrated the Air Force Reserve pilot training programs for F-15E, A-10 and F-35 missions. The wing is also postured to stand up a 944th Maintenance Group and has grown by over 1,000 personnel.

“Col. Cook you are inheriting the best wing in the Air Force,” Gallegos said. “It’s the largest fighter wing in the world, phenomenal airpower, unbelievable troops, unbelievable staff, I’m jealous of you. To the Airmen, I love you and I salute you.”

The change of command ceremony was followed by Gallegos’ retirement ceremony after having served 32 years in the U.S. Air Force.