C-130 “Center of Excellence” welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Col. Jonathan Tucker assumed command of the 314th Airlift Wing from Col. Joseph Miller during a change of command ceremony, June 3.

Previously the Director of Test and Evaluation for Air Mobility Command, Tucker now commands the nation’s tactical airlift “Center of Excellence.” This is Tucker’s fourth assignment to Little Rock AFB, including two training and now two operational assignments.

The 314th AW trains C-130 aircrew members from the Department of Defense, Coast Guard and 47 partner nations. Their mission, to produce professional, combat-minded C-130 crewmembers as the DOD’s largest C-130 formal training unit.

The wing flies 6,115 hours annually and uses two local drop zones, two local assault landing zones, 10 regional airfields, and 50 flight simulators and training devices to train more than 1,200 students annually, including more than 150 international students.

“To the men and women of the 314th Airlift Wing, I am honored and humbled to serve among you,” Tucker said. “For over 65 years this wing has been flying C-130s, tac [tactical] airlift is deep in our DNA. For the past 25 years, we have had the privilege and responsibility of producing the next generation of tactical airlifters.

“As we’ve witnessed over the past year, the world’s changing and so will the environment we operate in,” he continued. “Tac airlift will lead the way into the next fight and our students will be there. Each one of you makes an impact on our students, ensuring they are ready. And I look forward to immersing myself in our mission so I can learn how better to serve you and the mobility community.” 

Tucker, who began his Air Force career in 1997 after graduating the University of Alabama, is a senior pilot with over 2,600 flight hours including 586 combat hours in support of contingency operations.

Presiding over the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Christopher Amrhein, 19th Air Force vice commander, spoke of the importance and responsibility entrusted to the men and women of the 314th AW.

“Under today’s global security environment, getting every Herk-trained crewmember out the door to almost every region of the world is essential to our national security,” Amrhein said. “It goes beyond merely replenishing the force, it’s about delivering a highly trained force that can operate with the utmost professionalism upon hitting the ground at their operational units.

“From the Pacific to Central Asia, from Africa to Europe, and across the United States, C-130 crews are employed daily to ensure our nation is secure,” Amrhein continued.

After praising the accomplishments achieved under Miller’s command, Amrhein expressed full confidence in Tucker’s ability to lead the C-130 community’s “Center of Excellence.”

“Colonel Tucker is a weapons school graduate and instructor, and I cannot think of another tactical airlifter with his pedigree better suited to lead the 314th [Airlift Wing] and raise the bar even higher,” he said. “Bottom line, you will find no better prepared officer to take command of the 314th Airlift Wing, and continue to provide trained C-130 aircrews with a keen eye in doing so and with a global operational mindset.”

In Miller’s outgoing address to the wing, he thanked his family, fellow leaders, the community and Little Rock Airmen.

“Herk Nation is real … if you’re here on this base you feel it, you sense it, Herk Nation is something special, and it starts with the 314th Airlift Wing,” Miller said. “To the men and women of the 314th [Airlift Wing], it’s been an honor, it’s been the privilege of my 24-year career to serve as your wing commander while you fix and fly airplanes, lead, train, and inspire the next generation of tac airlifters. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for what you’ve done.”