LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The 47th Flying Training Wing welcomed its new commander during a change of command ceremony June 28.
U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Velino assumes command of a base that began its pilot training program in 1947.
Prior to taking command of the 47 FTW, Velino served as the 15th Operations Group commander at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The 15 OG directs all activities to ensure combat readiness of over 280 personnel assigned to four operational squadrons. In this position, he also oversaw operations at the largest joint-use airfield in the United States.
“I am very excited to be back here at Laughlin Air Force Base,” said Velino. “This place changed my life over 20 years ago, and left me with a love of airplanes—ready to fly, fight and win.”
With Velino’s history as a former Laughlin undergraduate training pilot, he is able to directly understand and connect with the base’s mission.
“We are trusted to make pilots,” said Velino. “In a very short time they find themselves operating around the world, needing to be ready to go into a combat environment.”
U.S. Air Force Major General Patrick Doherty, 19th Air Force commander, presiding officer of the ceremony, shared similar views with Velino on the important mission Laughlin has for the Air Force.
“The Air Force is not letting you down,” said Doherty. “They sifted and found a superior leader to follow in the footsteps of Col. Shank, and that’s Col. Velino.”
After the change of command, Laughlin also said its farewells to the outgoing commander, U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Shank.
“We have the best airspace, the best weather, and the best men and women here at Laughlin,” said Shank. “I had the honor and privilege of serving six groups here at Laughlin.”
During his speech, Shank vocalized how much Laughlin impacted his life and after completing more than 3,000 flying hours he will be officially retiring from the Air Force.
“You all are doing the greatest job every day, and you have never faltered,” said Shank. “I can brag all day about the men and women of this great base, all 2,800 of you who are out there doing the J.O.B., training the world’s greatest military pilots, developing resilient Airmen, and deployable ready warriors.”