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Wednesday, August 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fairchild Air Force Base sees change of command

UPDATED: Wed., July 1, 2020

Col. Cassius Bentley speaks at Wednesday’s ceremony, during which he assumed command of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing.  (Fairchild Air Force Base)
Col. Cassius Bentley speaks at Wednesday’s ceremony, during which he assumed command of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing. (Fairchild Air Force Base)

Fairchild Air Force Base marked Wednesday its 15th change in command of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, the more prominent of Fairchild’s two wings and the Air Force’s largest air refueling wing.

Outgoing Col. Derek Salmi, who has served in that role since summer 2018, will be assigned to the joint staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., according to a press release from the 92nd.

Col. Cassius Bentley III will take Salmi’s place, following Bentley’s service as vice commander at Royal Air Force in Mildenhall, England.

Bentley said at the ceremony that his mantra is “higher, stronger and faster.”

“I look forward to getting to know you and working for you as we continue to live out what those big hangars proudly state: global reach for America and tanker pride,” Bentley said.

Normally a change of command ceremony would involve one of those hangars filled with airmen. Wednesday’s event, however, was broadcast virtually on YouTube due to COVID-19 spread. A small crowd attended in person, including the families of Salmi and Bentley, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and a representative for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers.

A narrator of the ceremony read through Salmi’s awards and accomplishments as commander of the 92nd, including his Legion of Merit first oak leaf cluster award as commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing.

Salmi was also chosen to serve as the air exercise wing commander for the exercise Mobility Guardian 2019, which is a readiness test involving real-world scenarios, the narrator said. For that exercise, Salmi led a community of over 4,000 personnel from 26 countries and 52 aircraft flying 388 mobility missions.

Salmi also received Air Mobility Command’s nomination for 2020 General and Mrs. Jerome F. O’Malley award, which highlights the colonel and spouse team of the year, the narrator said.

“Wow, what a fantastic day for the 92nd Air Refueling Wing and for team Fairchild, as well as a special moment for my family and I, one that we will long remember and treasure,” Salmi said in a statement at the ceremony.

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