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101st Air & Space Operations Group welcomes new commander

U.S. Air Force Col. Randolph Lake, right, incoming 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG) commander, accepts the ceremonial passing of the flag from Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, Air, Florida National Guard assistant adjutant general, and Florida Air National Guard commander, during an AOG change of command, Tyndall Air Force Base, July 14, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Col. Randolph Lake, right, incoming 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG) commander, accepts the ceremonial passing of the flag from Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, Florida National Guard Assistant Adjutant General (Air), and Florida Air National Guard commander, during an AOG change of command, Tyndall Air Force Base, July 14, 2021. The passing of the flag represents an age old tradition representing a change of leadership. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Regina Young)

Col. Matthew Jones, former 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG) commander, passes the ceremonial flag to Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, Florida National Guard Assistant Adjutant General (Air), and Florida Air National Guard commander, during an AOG change of command, Tyndall Air Force Base, July 14, 2021.

Col. Matthew Jones, former 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG) commander, passes the ceremonial flag to Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, Florida National Guard Assistant Adjutant General (Air), and Florida Air National Guard commander, during an AOG change of command, Tyndall Air Force Base, July 14, 2021. The passing of the flag symbolizes Jones' passing of command. (Air National Guard photo by Maj. Andrew Scott)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The 101st Air and Space Operations Group welcomed a new commander during a ceremony held here on July 14, 2021.

The age old military tradition of passing the flag during the ceremony symbolized the change in leadership as Col. Randolph Lake assumed command of the 101st AOG from Col. Matthew Jones. The 101st AOG change of command was presided over by Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, Florida National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General (Air) and Florida Air National Guard commander.

“Gizmo [Jones], when you took command almost two years ago I challenged you to leave the AOG better than you found it. I would like to summarize your command tour with these two statements: you ARE leaving the AOG better than you found it and you certainly made a difference,” said Valle. “Vector [Lake], you are charged with taking the AOG to the next level. I challenge you to serve the men and women of the AOG well and be worthy of the great people you will lead.”

Following the ceremonial passing of the flag, Lake addressed the crowd as the new commander of the 101st AOG.

“Thank you Col. Jones for your service to the 101st AOG and to this great nation,” said Lake. “You have led us through a pandemic of historic proportion, have tirelessly advocated for us across the National Guard Bureau, have sustained the reconstruction of the Air Operations Center compound following Hurricane Michael, and have laid the ground work setting me up for success as the next commander of the AOG. I will continue to lead with the same devotion and support you’ve shown to the exceptional members of America’s AOC.”

Prior to commanding the 101st AOG, Lake served in six different positions at the 601st AOC, including Chief of the Strategy Division, Chief of the Combat Plans Division, and as a Chief of Combat Operations.

“I’d like to say thank you to the men and women of the 101st AOG who made being a commander the most rewarding position I have held throughout my Air Force career; your had work and dedication is truly amazing and I appreciate you all,” said Jones. “Col. Lake, you are about to take command of the best AOG in the Air National Guard. I wish you the best of luck and the AOG couldn’t be in better hands.”

The ceremony not only marked a change in leadership at the AOG but also a big change in Jones’ life, as he will retire after nearly 29 years of dedicated service to both the United States Air Force and Florida Air National Guard.

The 101st AOG is a Florida Air National Guard unit that provides forces to the 601st AOC to fulfill its critical mission of defending the homeland. The 101st AOG was officially activated July 1, 2009.

The 601st AOC is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the continental United States and to U.S. critical infrastructure.

For additional information visit facebook.com/AmericasAOC.