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Team Luke welcomes new commander

Maj. Gen. James Hecker, 19th Air Force commander, hands the guidon to the incoming commander Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, July 13, 2016. Leonard will be the commander of the 56th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Maj. Gen. James Hecker, 19th Air Force commander, hands the guidon to the incoming commander Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, July 13, 2016. Leonard will be the commander of the 56th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Members of the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit salute Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, 56th Fighter Wing commander, after revealing his name on the flagship F-35 Lightning II during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Members of the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit salute Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, 56th Fighter Wing commander, after revealing his name on the flagship F-35 Lightning II during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, 56th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to the airmen for the first time during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, 56th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to the airmen for the first time during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, outgoing 56th Fighter Wing commander, addresses the fighter wing for the last time as their commander during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, outgoing 56th Fighter Wing commander, addresses the fighter wing for the last time as their commander during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Members of the 56th Fighter Wing stand at parade rest during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Members of the 56th Fighter Wing stand at parade rest during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Members of the Luke Air Force Base honor guard prepare to present the colors during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Members of the Luke Air Force Base honor guard prepare to present the colors during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Members of the Luke Air Force Base honor guard prepare to present the colors during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Members of the Luke Air Force Base honor guard prepare to present the colors during the 56th Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, receives his final salute from Col. David Shoemaker, 56th Fighter Wing vice commander, during the 56th FW change of command July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, receives his final salute from Col. David Shoemaker, 56th Fighter Wing vice commander, during the 56th FW change of command July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

The Luke Air Force Base honor guardsmen present the colors during the 56th Fighter Wing change of command July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The change of command ceremony is a military tradition, deeply rooted in history dating back to the time of Frederick the Great of Prussia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

The Luke Air Force Base honor guardsmen present the colors during the 56th Fighter Wing change of command July 13, 2016 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The change of command ceremony is a military tradition, deeply rooted in history dating back to the time of Frederick the Great of Prussia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Luke Air Force Base, Arizona --

Luke Air Force Base Airmen welcomed their new wing commander July 13, as Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard took command of the 56th Fighter Wing from outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus.

 

Leonard, a command pilot with more than 2,900 flying hours, including 576 combat hours, comes to Luke from the Pentagon, where he served as senior military assistant to the secretary of the Air Force.

 

He entered the Air Force in May 1992 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. This is his second tour as a wing commander, having previously commanded the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, from 2013 through 2015.

 

The general is accompanied by his wife, Maria, and their six children.

 

“Maria and I are extremely excited to be here today, to join your team and to serve you,” Leonard said. “This was our first assignment 22 years ago after getting married, and it’s awesome to rejoin your team.”

 

The ceremony was officiated by Maj. Gen. James Hecker, commander of the 19th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, who narrated Pleus’ many accomplishments at Luke.

 

“They flew 33,000 sorties during the two years the Pleus family commanded here,” Hecker said. “They produced 800 fighter pilots and 600 air weapons controllers. You’ve had several challenges, but you knocked every single one of them out of the park.”   

 

Hecker continued to praise Pleus for his leadership during his tenure at the wing, and presented him with a Legion of Merit award.

 

Under Pleus’ command, the wing integrated the F-35, the Air Force’s newest fifth-generation fighter. He ushered in pilot training for the F-35, saw the F-35 program go from two to 39 F-35s, and postured Luke for initial operational capability at Hill Air Force Base.

 

“I’m proud of you,” Pleus said. “As I take a last look across your faces I see friends, and that is what I will miss the most. Thank you for all the opportunities you have given Jennifer and I, and I hope we cross paths soon.”

 

Pleus will go on to work as the director of the F-35 Integration Office at the Pentagon.

 

As the change of command concluded, Leonard reinforced his priorities and vision for the future at Luke.

 

“Our part as the 56th FW is to build the future of airpower,” he said. “Our Air Force is growing and our enemies continue to pursue. We must also grow and while doing so pursue excellence. We build the future of airpower, and it starts here.”