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Leonas takes command of 442d Operations Group

442d Operations Group change of command

U.S. Air Force Col. Stephen Nester, 442d Fighter Wing commander, hands the 442d Operations Group guidon to Col. Mike Leonas, the new operations group commander at a change of command ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., August 3, 2019. Prior to becoming commander, Leonas served as deputy commander of the 442d OG since 2017.

442d Operations Group change of command

U.S. Air Force Col. Mike Leonas, 442d Operations Group commander, addresses the crowd during a change of command ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., August 3, 2019. Leonas has been stationed with the 442d Fighter Wing at Whiteman AFB since 2005.

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

The 442d Operations Group held a change of command ceremony here August 3 as Col. Bryan Stone relinquished command to Col. Mike Leonas.

Leonas, previously the 442d OG deputy commander, earned his commission through the Air Force Academy in 1990. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 hours including more than 785 combat hours.

During the ceremony, Leonas praised the passionate work ethic he sees in the operations and maintenance group alike. He attributed that passion as his motivation to continue to improve the Operations Group into a more ready, lethal force.

Stone has been stationed at Whiteman since 2006 and took command of the 442d OG in 2017. In his civilian career, he is a pilot for Southwest Airlines.

The 442d Fighter Wing is the Air Force Reserve fighter hub out of Whiteman AFB. The wing's mission is to train and deploy America’s premier combat-ready Airmen. As the Air Force's only fighter plane designed for close-air support, the A-10 provides critical front-line support for U.S. and allied forces on the ground.