The new commander of Minot Air Force Base's 5th Bomb Wing said he feels he's blessed with one of the most important jobs in the Air Force.
On Monday, Col. Alex Mezynski became the 52nd commander of the bomb wing, taking over leadership from Col. James Dawkins Jr..
Dawkins has a new assignment in Washington, D.C., where he will become the principal assistant deputy administrator for Military Application/deputy administrator for Defense Programs with the National Nuclear Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • From the left, Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Eighth Air Force commander; Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Jurgella, 5th Bomb Wing command chief; Col. James Dawkins Jr., outgoing bomb wing commander; and Col. Alex Mezynski, new bomb wing commander, stand before the wing’s guidon is presented to Mezynski at the change of command ceremony Monday at Minot Air Force Base.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson, left, Eighth Air Force commander, pins the Legion of Merit award onto Col. James Dawkins Jr., outgoing commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, at the change of command ceremony Monday at Minot Air Force Base.
A native of Butler, Pa., Mezynski came to Minot AFB from Barksdale AFB, La., where he was the vice commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing.
Mezynski recognized his family during the ceremony - his wife Jennifer and their two daughters, Madeline, 7, and Abigail, 3, along with other family members here for the event.
As commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, Mezynski is responsible for providing combat-ready B-52 aircraft, crews and associated combat support for deterrence, crisis response, global power projection, major theater war and maritime operations and Air and Space Expeditionary Force deployments. He also serves as the installation commander.
Mezynski said Minot has some of the most disciplined and combat-capable airmen in the Air Force.
Should deterrence ever fail, Mezynski told the group they stand ready to deliver.
The Minot bomb wing is comprised of 5,470 military members and 22 civilian employees, according to Minot AFB Public Affairs. The wing is a unit of Air Force Global Strike Command.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson, commander of the Eighth Air Force at Barksdale AFB and presiding officer at the change of command, said the men and women of Minot AFB keep this nation secure on a daily basis.
Wilson acknowledged the back-to-back deployments to Andersen AFB in Guam during Dawkin's time as 5th Bomb Wing commander. Nearly 550 airmen were deployed.
The wing has received prestigious awards over the past months, with Dawkins in command, he said.
"The real success is what goes on behind the scenes fueled by airmen," Wilson added.
He noted that Dawkins led Minot AFB in 2011 when Minot had one of the worst floods in its history. Under his leadership, Minot AFB gave back to the city while continuing the base's mission, Wilson said.
He said Dawkins' work here was "extremely, "extremely" well done and he has made an enormous impact on the nuclear enterprise.
Wilson said Dawkins' wife, Daina, has had an important part in carrying out the work at Minot AFB.
Reflecting on Mezynski, Wilson said for every assignment Mezynski has "demonstrated uncanny ability to get the work done."
Wilson promoted Mezynski to be the 2nd Bomb Wing vice commander last summer.
"The bar's been set high extremely high by Colonel Dawkins," Wilson said.
Then in noting ways that success is measured, Wilson said success also is developing the right people to carry on the mission.
Mezynski received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in June 1993. He is a command pilot with more than 2,900 hours, and has flown combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mezynski has flown the T-37, T-38, B-1B, T-1, B-2 and B-52.