Monday, October 19, 2009

Stencel assumes command of Oregon National Guard’s 142 Fighter Wing

Col. Michael E. Stencel (right), assumed command of the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing from outgoing wing commander, Col. John E. Kent (center), during a ceremony at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oct. 17. Stencel has been a member of the Oregon Air National Guard since 1984, and has served in various leadership roles throughout the organization.

Over the weekend, the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing got a new commander.

Col. John E. Kent, who retired from the Oregon Air National Guard, relinquished command of the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing to Col. Michael E. Stencel during a change of command ceremony at the Portland Air National Guard Base Oct. 17.

Kent has served as the wing commander of the unit since 2007. Kent is a command pilot with over 3,400 operational hours in the F-15 aircraft, and has been employed with Delta Airlines as a commercial pilot since 2000.

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, said Kent followed in the footsteps of many great wing commanders who came before him. He thanked Kent for doing a “magnificent” job.

“He has found what was worth doing in his life,” Rees said.

Under Kent’s leadership, the 142nd Fighter Wing upgraded from the F-15 A and B model jets to the C and D models. The unit also saw its share of high level inspections, and continous deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle. The wing also exceeded its end-strength goals of 100 percent membership.

Kent challenged the entire wing to a future is as bright as their past. He also reminded the airmen of their great accomplishments.

“You don’t know how good you all are,” he said. “You’re simply the best.”

Turning to look at Col. Stencel, he said with a smile, “Strap yourself in for a wild ride.”

Col. Michael E. Stencel served recently as the wing’s vice commander. He joined the Oregon Air National Guard in 1984, and became an F-4 pilot with the 123rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron the following year. He has worked at Oregon National Guard headquarters, and with the 142nd Civil Engineering Squadron before serving as the Mission Support Group Commander.

Rees praised Stencel for his wide range of experience as a pilot, working with civil engineers, and his work at state headquarters as the State Director of Operations. He said Stencel’s background and experience will help him successfully complete the 142nd Fighter Wing’s upgrade its fleet of F-15s, in addition to maintaining a successful long-term relationship between the wing and the Port of Portland.

“He has a broad background that I think will put him in a good position to be another great commander for the 142nd Fighter Wing,” Rees said.

Brig. Gen. Bruce W. Prunk, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, said Stencel’s experience as a traditional guardsman will benefit the unit because of the varied military and civilian experience he brings to his new position.

Oregon Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Bruce W. Prunk, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, hands the guidon to Col. Michael E. Stencel during the change of command ceremony for the 142nd Fighter Wing. Stencel became the new wing commander replacing Col. John E. Kent.

“We have a very dedicated core of full time people, but the citizen airmen make up the heart and soul of the organization,” he said.

Stencel told the gathering that the ceremony should serve as a brief moment for the wing to reflect on its capabilities, and to plan for the future before beginning another cycle of deployments and inspections.

“We have a strong foundation in place… a long standing culture of integrity and performance built on your shoulders and the shoulders of the airmen who have come before you,” he said.

Stencel added that the ceremony is less about what he plans to do as commander, and more about what every airman at the wing will accomplish in their own careers. He encouraged wing members to serve by mentoring, leading and by living the Air Force’s core values.

“I challenge you to not just be a member of this organization,” Stencel said. “But to step up and be a leader.”

To see the Oregonian's story, go here.

Col. Michael E. Stencel (seated, left), pauses for a photo with his family after a change of command ceremony at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Ore., Oct. 17. Pictured from left to right: Stencel's son Nathan, wife Susan, and daughter Nicole. Stencel, who joined the Oregon Air National Guard in 1984 and has served in various leadership roles throughout the organization, assumed command from Col. John E. Kent.


Story by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

Photos by Staff Sgt. John Hughel,
142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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