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18th Wing changes command

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cedrique Oldaker, Airman 1st Class Tylir Meyer and Airman 1st Class Jonathan R. Sifuentes
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. David Eaglin relinquished command of the 18th Wing to Col. Nicholas Evans during a change of command ceremony at Kadena Air Base, Japan, July 6, 2023.

Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, U.S. Forces Japan, and 5th Air Force commander, presided over the event as the 18th Wing ceremoniously bid farewell to one leader and welcomed another.

“The 18th Wing has been the go-to wing for the Pacific Air Forces and the highest levels of leadership in our country,” said Eaglin. “In the simplest terms: Kadena delivers airpower whenever and wherever it's needed.”

Since Eaglin assumed command in July 2021, he led the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat wing, while continuing to navigate through a global pandemic. Faced with these challenges, Eaglin pushed a $10 million effort to ensure Airmen could take leave to see their families back home by utilizing the Funded Environmental and Morale Leave program.

Additionally, with the ongoing divestment of F-15C/D Eagles, Kadena earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award as well as completed 110% of the flying hour program with 18th Wing aircraft, a first in Kadena’s history. Eaglin oversaw Air Force-wide innovations in Project Kinetic Cargo and Project Venom, continuing to uphold Kadena’s mission to deliver decisive airpower in support of U.S. interests, the defense of Japan and the peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

During his command, Eaglin hosted the first open house in nine years, America Fest. The event welcomed approximately 77,000 guests and enabled them to learn about U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Japan Air Self Defense Force operations, aircraft and vehicles as well as interact with science, technology, engineering and mathematics exhibits.

Eaglin praised the hard work and ability of 18th Wing Airmen to provide command and control for the joint force and deliver airpower while saving lives through rapid search and rescue. 

“They [18th Wing Airmen] protected the Speaker of the House for her unprecedented visit to Taiwan with little to no notice in the middle of a typhoon,” said Eaglin. “Consisting of a package of 60 aircraft, they not only did it once, but twice. So thank you to all the Airmen of the 18th Wing for all that you’ve done while we’ve been here.”

Evans is a command pilot with over 2,400 hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II. He has had four previous assignments in the Indo-Pacific, including Group and Squadron command in South Korea, Director of the Commander’s Action Group for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, commander of the 613th Air Operations Center and provided operational and administrative support to the Pacific Air Forces commander.

Evans has spent the last 2 years working at the PACAF headquarters, making him keenly aware of the importance of the ability to cooperate with our allies and partners. 

“At any overseas base, I think the most important relationship is with the host nation,” said Evans. “It’s great to see so many local civic leaders and leaders from the Japan Self Defense Force here. Thank you for attending and I look forward to meeting you at the first opportunity.”

Evans also looks forward to meeting and interacting with Airmen.

“Please stop us and say hello. Let us know what’s going on in your corner of the base,” said Evans. “Let us know what we can do to improve your quality of life or your ability to get after the mission.”