Humor, precision, mark PAFB's 45th Space Wing change of command


Lt. Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, left, transfers 45th Space Wing command from Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, right, to Brig. Gen. Wayne R.Monteith as Chief Master Sergeant Craig Neri, 45th Space Wing Command Chief, keeps watch. Photo by Linda Wiggins

The incoming commander of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base set the tone for his expected 730 days on the job that blended high expectations with pop culture.

Brig. Gen. Wayne R. Monteith addressed a standing-room-only audience in the PAFB theater filled with about 1,000 military dignitaries from all over the world and local community leaders during the Aug. 4 change of command ceremony.

“My approach to life and leadership is borrowed from a great philosopher: 'Do, or do not, there is no try.' Jedi Master Yoda,” Monteith said with a smile.

The change of command was presided over by Monteith's boss, Lt. Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command, and commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

“It is a great honor to lead this command of the premier launch operations in the nation and the world. I tried my whole career to get posted at the 45th an never made the cut,” Raymond joked.

In addition to commanding the 45th, Monteith is the director of the Eastern Range. He leads more than 13,700 military, Department of Defense civilian and contractor personnel responsible for the processing and launching of U.S. and commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Eastern Range is a 15-million-square-mile area that supports an average of 15 launches per year aboard Delta, Atlas, Falcon Navy and emerging launch vehicles. Monteith also manages wing launch and range infrastructure supporting NASA, commercial and missile test missions.

He and outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno share a rare honor: command of two space wings in their biography. Prior to 45th command, Armagno served as commander of the 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg AFB.

Armagno, who has been selected and approved for her second star, will now assume her new duties as director of Strategic Plans and Requirements, Air Force Space Command at Peterson AFB, Colo. 

Before his most recent assignment as senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Monteith commanded the 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, Colo. from 2009 to 2011.

Monteith likened the honor of commanding a second space wing to “lightening striking twice.”

Armagno gave Monteith a preview of what it is like leading the “Gateway to Space.”

I have never seen a community so supportive of their Wing. This is a community what changed their area code to 3-2-1,” Armagno said. Her last words in closing remarks to 45thservice personnel, known as “Sharks,” drew a long standing ovation.

“Shark 1, signing off.”