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AFRCC holds change of command

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gene M. Manner, commander, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center accepts the AFRCC guidon from Brig. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman, vice commander, 1 AF (Air Forces Northern), during a change of command ceremony July 2, 2019, Tyndall AFB, Fla.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gene M. Manner, commander, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center accepts the AFRCC guidon from Brig. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman, vice commander, 1 AF (Air Forces Northern), during a change of command ceremony July 2, 2019, Tyndall AFB, Fla. The AFRCC serves as the United States inland search and rescue coordinator and the single agency responsible for coordination on-land federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico, and Canada. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Regina Young)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Evan H. Gardner, outgoing commander, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center relinquishes the AFRCC guidon to Brig. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman, vice commander, 1 AF (Air Forces Northern), during a change of command ceremony July 2, 2019, Tyndall AFB, Fla.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Evan H. Gardner, outgoing commander, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center relinquishes the AFRCC guidon to Brig. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman, vice commander, 1 AF (Air Forces Northern), during a change of command ceremony July 2, 2019, Tyndall AFB, Fla. The AFRCC serves as the United States inland search and rescue coordinator and the single agency responsible for coordination on-land federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico, and Canada. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Regina Young)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center received a new commander during a change of command ceremony today.

After two years as the AFRCC commander, Lt. Col. Evan H. Gardner relinquished command to Lt. Col. Gene M. Manner, who had been serving as the AFRCC director of operations.

“It’s truly been an honor to serve as the commander of such an amazing organization. Its reach is truly global yet personal because every mission is about finding that one person who needs help,” said Gardner. “I can’t think of a better person to lead the Airmen of the AFRCC than Lt. Col. Manner. He is beyond reproach as a professional and his breadth of knowledge on our mission and capabilities is unmatched.”

Brig. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman, 1st Air Force and Air Forces Northern vice commander, presided over the ceremony.

“Lt. Col. Gardner, thank you for your tremendous leadership of the AFRCC, you commanded the unit to new heights. You successfully added Mid-Earth Orbit satellites into SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking) operations, expanded the Civil Air Patrol’s cellular forensics program, and oversaw the first inland SAR mobile training team sent to Mexico,” said Ekman.

A passing of the guidon symbolized the change in leadership as Lt. Col. Manner steps into his responsibilities as commander.

“Looking forward, I can think of no better leader than Lt. Col. Manner to assume command of the AFRCC,” said Ekman. “A highly experienced combat search and rescue Airman, he knows what it takes to fly and lead in this mission. I for one appreciate his passion for improvement, his common sense approach to solving problems, and his unwavering dedication to this mission.”

Then Lt. Col. Manner addressed the members of the AFRCC.  “To the men and women of the AFRCC, the things you do every day, around-the-clock, saves lives and brings fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters home to their families,” said Manner.  “I can’t think of a more rewarding job than that. I’m extremely proud of the work you do and humbled to serve as your new commander.”

On behalf of the United States inland search and rescue coordinator, the commander U.S. Northern Command, the AFRCC serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating airborne and on-land federal support of SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States. Additionally, the AFRCC maintains close contact with Mexico and Canada for mutual support of civil SAR across North America. 

Falling under AFNORTH, the AFRCC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center directly ties in to the Federal Aviation Administration's alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center. In addition to the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking information, the AFRCC computer system contains resource files that list federal and state organizations, which can conduct or assist in SAR efforts throughout North America. 

In 2018 the AFRCC team recorded a record high 10,469 incidents resulting in 933 SAR missions and a record 550 saves

For additional information on the AFRCC or AFNORTH, visit facebook.com/FirstAirForce or twitter.com/1stAF.