Gettys assumes command of the 176th Wing Published Nov. 2, 2014 By Capt. John Callahan and Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Halla 176th Wing Public Affairs JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- One of the nation's largest and busiest Air National Guard wings officially recognized its new commanding officer at an assumption-of-command ceremony here Nov. 2. In the changing environment of the Alaska National Guard, Governor Sean Parnell appointed Col. Blake Gettys as the commander of the 176th Wing effective Oct. 20. Prior to the appointment Gettys had been serving at the Alaska National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters as its director of operations. Before that he spent 15 years with the Wing, most recently as commander of the 176th Operations Group. Under Gettys' leadership the Operations Group received numerous commendations for effectiveness. These included an "Excellent" rating for mission effectiveness in the Wing's 2014 Unit Effectiveness Inspection; the 2013 National Guard Association of the Unites States Spaatz Trophy as the overall outstanding flying unit in the Air National Guard; the 2013 Air Force Association Outstanding Unit Award; the 2012 That Others May Live Award; the 2012 Jolly Green Giant Award for best rescue mission; the 2011 Mackay Trophy; and an "Excellent" rating in the Wing's 2011 Unit Compliance Inspection. "This is the fundamental strength of Col. Gettys," said Brig. Gen. Timothy O'Brien, who as Alaska's assistant adjutant general for air presided at the assumption-of-command ceremony. "He has the ability to develop highly effective teams of people. His focus will be on mission and compliance, yet ever-present will be safe operations." "When we choose someone to carry the [command] flag and be the face of the organization we must ensure they are the right person," O'Brien added. "We have that person here today." During his first address to the assembled men and women of the 176th Wing, Gettys said his top priorities would be to continue the Wing's outstanding record of mission accomplishment; to ensure that standards of performance, professionalism and fitness were consistently applied and maintained; and to promote a culture of mentorship throughout the wing. "We are all responsible for grooming our future replacements," he noted. "As a returning member of the Wing, I am closely familiar with the outstanding work done every single day - literally, around the clock - by the Airmen here," he said after the ceremony. "This wing undertakes more operational missions than any Air Guard wing in the country, and for decades has offered outstanding support to our nation and the State of Alaska. I am incredibly honored and humbled to be asked to lead such capable and committed men and women."