Change of Command

Col. Walters now commander of Minot AFB’s 5th Bomb Wing

Submitted Photo Col. Bradley L. Cochran relinquishes command of the 5th Bomb Wing to Col. Michael O. Walters on July 16, 2020 at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. The presiding official over the ceremony was Maj. General Mark E. Weatherington, 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander. Photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Adkins.

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE – Col. Bradley Cochran, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, turned over the command to Col. Michael Walters during a ceremony at the base on Thursday.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of people attending the ceremony was limited, however the ceremony was livestreamed on the base’s Facebook page.

Cochran was commander of the 5th Bomb Wing – the Warbirds – for the past two years. He became commander in May 2018. He will be assigned as a member of Headquarters of the Air Force Air Staff as the deputy director of operational capability requirements at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., according to Minot AFB Public Affairs.

Cochran told the group gathered for the ceremony he was truly honored to be Warbird No. 55 “to lead the 5th Bomb Wing here at the most strategic base on the planet.”

He said the accomplishments that Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington previously mentioned at the ceremony, were not his “but are those of the Warbird airmen that made it happen. They are truly impressive achievements and I stand in awe of what the airmen of this wing have accomplished and continue to achieve every single day in the worthy cause to defend this nation, to be our nation’s shield and to carry the weight of our nation’s nuclear power. It has been extremely impressive for me to stand with them and be a part of this elite team.”

Weatherington, Eighth Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander, was presiding official over the ceremony.

Walters expressed his appreciation to Cochran in handing over the Minot AFB mission-ready force to him and that his departure would be “big shoes” to be filled.

“To the Warbirds I’m truly honored to take the lead. Humbled by your accomplishments, sacrifice, dedication day in and day out that you and your families demonstrate safeguarding our nation, reassurring our allies, striking fear and respect in our potential adversaries, assuring anyone that would do us harm … we are ready anytime, anywhere we are on the clock 24/7. We set the bar for excellence at Minot Air Force Base in the 5th Bomb Wing.

“Make no mistake Minot is special like Colonel Cochran said this place is special – no place on earth like this for many reasons. Home of the Global Striker… two legs of the nuclear triad arm in arm with the ‘Rough Riders’ (91st Missile Wing), our brothers and sisters, community support known Air Forcewide to be second to none,” Walters said.

Prior to Minot AFB, Walters was commander of the 379th Expeditionary Operations Group at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

He is a command pilot with more than 2,680 hours (588 combat hours). Aircraft he’s flown include the T-33A, B-52H, B-2A and B-1B, according to his biographical information.


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