SWANTON, Ohio — The 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio National Guard celebrated a change in command on Saturday. The base plays a pivotal role in protecting U.S. airspace with 60 percent of the nation’s population within its radius. Over 1,000 military personnel and guests attended the ceremony.

Honor and respect were the themes of the day as the stingers of the 180th Fighter Wing witnessed a change in command from Colonel Kevin Doyle to Colonel Michael DiDio.

“It’s an age-old military tradition where we honor our outgoing commander for his or her accomplishments," Vice Wing Commander Colonel Bill Giezie said, "and we get to recognize the incoming commander for all the great things he or she’s going to do, bringing this wing into the future."

Outgoing Commander Doyle conducted his last military flight Saturday morning after 30 years of service, the last three as part of the 180th. He says he’s most proud of improving the infrastructure of the base and the opportunities for the men and women who work there.

"We spent millions of dollars with local support with the community, our congressmen, senators that allowed us to get that money," Doyle said, "to come in here and improve our facilities, not only for current missions, for missions that we hope to be able to expand to in the future."

Replacing Doyle is former operations manager for the base for the last six years, Colonel Michael DiDio. He says throughout all of his career, he’s never found a more patriotic place than northwest Ohio.

"Our mantra for our part-time airmen is citizen airmen," he said, "so they’re part-time military but then they work full time in the civilian world and the relationship that we have with the community is critical to our success and it’s an impressive thing to watch in this area."

Commander Doyle says he knows firsthand that military life isn’t easy for families. He says he hopes to use his command to not only improve the mission but improve the quality of life for each member in the wing.

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