WARNER ROBINS -- Lt. Gen. James Jacksons career in the Air Force has far exceeded his original ambition.
After taking command of the Air Force Reserve Command on Monday, Jackson said he went into the Air Force to become a fighter pilot and never imagined he would rise to such a level.
He assumed command from Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, who has led the Robins-based unit for four years. Stenner retired after the change of command.
Its an exciting time, Jackson said after the ceremony. Weve got an outstanding team here.
One major difference under Jackson is that he has chosen Washington as his base of operations. Stenner, unlike previous Air Force Reserve Command commanders, opted to be based at Robins Air Force Base, and he lived there.
Jackson said he will live in Washington but will visit Robins weekly.
There are some important things going on right now, particularly with Congress, so I need to go ahead and be in the Washington, D.C., area right now, he said.
Like Stenner, he will serve as both Air Force Reserve Command commander and chief of the Air Force Reserve. In that role he serves as the principal adviser to the Air Force chief of staff on Air Force Reserve matters.
The ceremony was a mini economic boom for Warner Robins. Air Force Reserve Command officials estimated 1,000 people attended the ceremony held at the Museum of Aviation, and at least half of the attendees came from out of town.
Attendees included U.S. Rep. Austin Scott and three previous Air Force Reserve Command leaders.
Gen. Larry Spencer, the new Air Force vice chief of staff, officiated the change of command ceremony. He thanked Stenner for his 39 years of service in the Air Force and welcomed Jackson to his new role.
We are confident with your outstanding track record. You are wholly prepared for success, Spencer said.
After taking command, Jackson called it an honor and a life-changing event.
Ive been inside and outside of many organizations and many units, and without a doubt you cant find a better team or a more successful organization than the Air Force Reserve Command, he said.
Jackson is a 1978 graduate of the Air Force Academy and began his career as a fighter pilot. In the past two years he has served at the Pentagon as deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve.
After his retirement ceremony, Stenner offered some final words.
This has been a great ride, and it would have been very different if it had not been for the talent that sits out here, he said. Its all about doing what we have to do to keep this freedom that we have and to keep this country secure.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.