ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE — U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard took command of the 97th Air Mobility Wing, June 21, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, the 19th Air Force commander, passed the guidon to Leard in the official change-of-command ceremony. Leard now oversees the formal training of all KC-135 Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-46 Pegasus aircrews for active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve units as well as multiple partner air forces from across the world.
“Col. Matt Leard is the perfect choice to lead the members of the Mighty 97th,” said Wills. “He has excelled from the very first days of his career and has since built a reputation as one of our best young leaders. His deep commitment to our airmen and families, unwavering integrity and relentless dedication to our Air Force and our nation will serve the Mighty 97th well.”
In his first remarks as commander of the 97th AMW, Leard said he cannot wait to begin his next adventure here at Altus AFB.
“Team Leard is unbelievably excited and honored to be a part of the Mighty 97th,” said Leard. “The professionalism and enthusiasm we have seen in every member of the 97th is amazing and we could not be more grateful.”
Leard earned his commission through Officer Training School in 1999 and has since become a command pilot with more than 4,300 flight hours under his belt. His assignments have included squadron and detachment command, along with staff and officer duties at U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Air Force and Air Mobility Command Headquarters.
“I’ve always thought of Altus as mobility’s hometown,” said Leard. “It’s the comfortable place that you return to throughout your career and you know you can raise a family the way that you want to. That’s my vision for this base and community; we’re going to be bold and get after the fullness of that.”
This is not Leard’s first time at Altus AFB. Cumulatively, he has been to the 97th for a year and a half while training on the C-17. He said he is excited to return to the hometown feeling of Altus and the welcoming atmosphere of the wing.