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Mentzer takes command of 42nd ABW

Colonel Patrick J. Carley relinquishes command of the 42nd Air Base Wing to Col. Eries L. G. Mentzer, Aug. 24, 2020, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gen. James Hecker, Air University commander and president. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trey Ward)

Colonel Patrick J. Carley relinquishes command of the 42nd Air Base Wing to Col. Eries L. G. Mentzer, Aug. 24, 2020, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gen. James Hecker, Air University commander and president. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trey Ward)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Col. Eries Mentzer took command of the 42nd Air Base Wing from Col. Patrick Carley during a change of command ceremony, Aug. 24, 2020, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

The ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gen. James Hecker, Air University commander and president.

“You’ve got some big shoes to fill … but you and your family are going to do great,” Hecker said. “You are obviously qualified to do this job, and we are happy, enthusiastic and optimistic about you arriving here. … We look forward to being your wingmen along this journey.”

Mentzer is coming to Maxwell from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C. where she served as both the vice commander and Air Force commander.

Due to COVID-19, the ceremony was livestreamed, with limited in-person attendance.

“From the day we join the Air Force, we train to serve our nation during a time of war,” Mentzer said during a pre-ceremony interview. “Today’s adversary is COVID. Now, more than ever, the health and resilience of all of us depends on each of us. My guidance is simple: Just Do Right. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, ‘Right may not be easy, it might not be expedient, but it will satisfy the soul. You know what is right, Just Do Right.’”

Among her assignments, Mentzer has served as an expeditionary force support squadron commander, national defense fellow and joint readiness planner for the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“There were many leaders before me with the talent, but not the equal opportunity to serve at this level,” Mentzer said. “Their service and sacrifice paved a path that allows me this freedom to serve. To best honor them, it is important to share their stories and create more equal opportunity and access for those that follow.”

Mentzer said she is humbled to be the first Black woman to serve as the commander of the 42nd ABW and finds inspiration from Rosa Parks. 

“A former Maxwell Air Force Base seamstress, she challenged the status quo and sparked a movement that changed our Nation for the better,” she said. “Ms. Parks’ competence, confidence, compassion and courage motivate me to drive change that is more inclusive and reflective of the Airmen who serve today.”