New commander takes reins of 509th Bomb Wing

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hailey Farell
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 509th Bomb Wing welcomed U.S. Air Force Col. Keith Butler as its new commander during a change of command ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, June 21.

The change of command ceremony is a tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another. The transfer of command is physically represented by handing the command flag, the tangible symbol of the unit, from the outgoing commander to the new.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Andrew Gebara, Eighth Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony and commended outgoing commander U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Diehl.

“It is such a pleasure to come home to Whiteman and officiate this ceremony today and to take part in a time-honored tradition by saying farewell to Col. Daniel Diehl, the outbound commander, and welcome Col. Keith Butler the incoming commander,” he said.

During his two years in command, Diehl led over 4,000 military and civilian personnel to provide strategic nuclear operations, global strike, and worldwide combat support as the Air Force’s only B-2 Spirit stealth bomber wing and directed the first ever B-2 Bomber Task Force deployments to Iceland and Australia.

“Col. Butler, I know under your leadership, the 509th in partnership with the 131st will maintain continued, unmatched strategic deterrence,” said Diehl. “Team Whiteman partners will continue to flourish, and our Airman will continue to take pride in the mission.”

Diehl also thanked the men and women of the 509th Bomb Wing, the 131st Bomb Wing, the 442nd Fighter Wing, the 20th Attack Squadron, the 1-135th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Whiteman AFB, and the local community for truly making this a memorable experience for he and his family.

Diehl is on his way to a new position with Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Butler, a former 509th Operations Group commander, returns to Whiteman AFB from Edwards Air Force Base, California, where he commanded Detachment 5, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center.

“I stand here today as a deliberate result of mentorship and development,” said Butler, who began his Air Force career as an enlisted Airman before commissioning, becoming a pilot, and working his way up to commanding the 509th BW.

Butler will pick up where Diehl left off commanding the nation’s sole B-2 Spirit mission and installation functions.

He said the 509th BW will continue the mission and will do so with confident, credible, competent character.

“Thank you again for a warm welcome home,” said Butler. “Diane and I look forward to serving Whiteman AFB once again, working with our mission partners, our industry partners, and our local community to ensure Whiteman remains a benchmark total force installation.”