Clotfelter, the former operations group commander for the 116th, replaced Brig. Gen. William Welsh who is being reassigned to U.S. Strategic Command in Washington D.C.
The 116h, a Georgia Air National Guard unit, teams with the active-duty 461st Air Control Wing at Robins to fly the Joint STARS E-8C airborne ground surveillance aircraft.
Maj. Gen. Tom Moore, Georgia Air National Guard commander, officiated the brief change of command ceremony at the Museum of Aviation’s Century of Flight Hangar. A host of former 116th commanders and current 116th members attended along with local political and governmental leaders.
Moore said both Welsh and Clotfelter have had great success commanding organizations at all levels.
“What Gen. Welsh has accomplished in this wing is nothing short of remarkable,” Moore told the museum crowd.
He noted the “excellent” rating earned by the Joint STARS unit during a recent Air Combat Command operational readiness inspection.
“Most guys on their way out would have phoned it in,” Moore noted, “but Gen. Welsh was there every day to ensure an outstanding ORI.”
Moore, a former 116th ACW commander, said choosing Clotfelter was not difficult.
“Kevin is a preacher (in civilian life), and that puts us in good hands,” he said. “I know the Lord has us in His sights.”
Welsh logged 16 years in the 116th, including the unit’s transition to the B-1B bomber and later to the Joint STARS mission.
“But it seems like only yesterday,” he said during a sometimes emotional farewell. “It’s gone by in a flash.”
The master navigator recounted the contributions of virtually every element of the 2,500 – person Joint STARS structure at Robins.
“I didn’t have to work very hard – just sign a few papers and make a decision or two,” he said. “The weight was carried by this great team. I’ve been blessed with a lot of great things – most I don’t deserve.”
He said the unit has posted more than 78,000 combat hours in Southwest Asia with a sortie generation rate of 100 percent.
“You don’t see that anywhere except in Joint STARS,” he told the crowd.
He praised the relationship with the active duty 461st, a partnership formed during the fall of 2011 as the local unit transitioned from a “blended “ structure.
“We are a model for total force integration,” Welsh said. “We have worked side by side, hand in hand doing the nation’s bidding. It’s been phenomenal.”
Welsh said assuming command of the 116th was a big day for both Clotfelter and members of the Guard unit.
“He’s an outstanding leader, a visionary leader,” he assured the museum audience. “He knows the meaning of servant leadership. He is the epitome of Air Force core values. You’re going to have a great run.”
Clotfelter, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University, said he has been greatly influenced by a biblical passage found in 1 Timothy: “Guard what has been entrusted to your care.”
“We’ll guard and keep faith with the 116th’s culture,” he told the largely uniformed audience. “We’re proud to serve the state and nation, and we will have one goal: guard what is entrusted to our care.”