14:39 PM

N.M. Wing Gains First Female Commander

Lt. Col. Jay Tourtel
Public Affairs Officer
New Mexico Wing

Col. Annette Peters is the New Mexico Wing’s first female commander, having succeeded Col. Mike Lee as the head of the wing.

The change of command ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base’s Mountain View Club included Col. Joe R. Smith, Southwest Region commander, and Maj. Gen. Kenneth Nava, New Mexico National Guard adjutant general. Smith presided over the ceremony.

Peters acknowledged the contributions of her two predecessors – Lee and Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, Civil Air Patrol national commander, who served as wing commander from 2011-2015 – and said she intends to build on that foundation.The new commander joined CAP in 2001. Before serving as wing vice commander from 2015-2019, she filled numerous leadership positions for the Los Alamos Composite Squadron. She commanded the unit from 2007-2015. “Our goal, moving forward, is to build on our successes and to raise ourselves to an even higher level,” Peters said.

She appointed Lt. Col. Dean M. Klassy as her vice commander and also said she’ll initiate the creation of three groups within the wing – North, Central and South. Group 800, which oversees the wing’s School Enrichment Program squadrons, will continue to do so. The group commanders will report to Klassy, who in turn will report to Peters.

After thanking those present for their understanding and support, she concluded with her vision statement for the wing: “Working together as a team, accomplishing our missions for our community, state and nation.”

Lee, her predecessor as wing commander, recognized members of his staff for their contributions, presenting them with Commander’s Commendations Awards, Meritorious Service Awards and Exceptional Service Awards.

Especially poignant for Lee was the Commander’s Commendation Award meant for wing legal officer Maj. Alvin C. Jones, who was killed in a bicycling accident in Roswell on May 28.

“It’s hard to lose anyone,” Lee said, his voice breaking, “but Alvin was a friend of mine. He recruited me into CAP. He is the reason that I am here.”

Arrangements were made to send the certificate to Jones’ family.

Lee himself received CAP’s Distinguished Service Medal from Col. Smith for his outstanding service as wing commander.

Smith, who had been present at the New Mexico Wing’s operations evaluation exercise the day before, reported that the wing received a rating of Ready – the highest rating a wing can receive – from the CAP-USAF Southwest Liaison Region, which evaluated the exercise.