Commander bids farewell at last all call

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jessica H. Smith-McMahan
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

Nearly two years after hosting his first all call as 23rd Wing Commander, Col. Russ Cook, hosted his “last call” at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, June 16, 2023.

During the all call, Cook along with Chief Master Sgt. Justin Geers, 23rd Wing command chief reflected on mission results, family focused accomplishments, and most importantly, how Team Moody led the way during his time commanding the Flying Tigers.

Cook immediately lauded the 23rd Wing for the collective effort in influencing change and how the Air Force is delivering the fight of the future.

“I don't know what else a combat wing could possibly do in one year. We've hit every measure of success you could have – really, there was no further for us to go,” he said. “We met every tasking we were sent, we sent ready, capable Airmen for all mission sets.”

Aside from combat readiness and exceptional mission success, the Wing deployed the first personnel recovery task force in an AFFORGEN cycle all while ensuring the new HH60 Whiskey met the original timeline for operational capabilities – a feat conquered due largely in part to the daily efforts of Airmen across the 23rd Wing.

“Bringing a new aircraft online is enough for any one wing to do by itself – to do it as we did with everything else going on and keeping the Lead Wing and all other agile combat employment concepts is remarkable,” Cook said, “… because the folks right here in 23rd Wing and the test folks, especially our operations and maintenance teams, took charge, knew we had to get the aircraft combat ready, and knew there was a mission set waiting on the other side.”

Within the last year alone, the 23rd Wing has been the most employed wing in Air Combat Command.

“There's not much more I can say about that, but that it is remarkable. It’s our number one priority and we never want to miss the call. There's no one more knowledgeable than the folks right here at Moody Air Force Base about where the future of the Air Force is going,” Cook boasted. “The expertise is right here.”

During his time in command, Cook has also observed a commitment to innovation throughout the group and squadron tiers from contacting to maintenance, there was growing initiative across the Wing. With so many successes, the term ‘the Moody model’ became a common phrase and sought after method for other bases.

“We certainly met our goal to have resilient and adaptable Airmen leading the fight. We've proven that time and again, with where the Air Force is going, we are right in the heart of change and it's not going away,” Cook said. “This is ground zero for change; Moody has been ground zero all along and I expect that to continue in the future.”

While there’s been no shortage of accomplishments, both Cook and Geers believe there’s always room for growth.

“It is extremely easy to say, ‘you can't do any better, you’re crushing it, exceeded every expectation’ but on the family side, that's a lot harder because we can always do better,” he explained. “It’s an endless pursuit to keep getting better and better support for our Airmen and their families.”

Geers encouraged Flying Tigers at every level to be a part of the improvements needed for the future of our Air Force families.

“There was so much going on and this base is so dynamic and it has these pockets of culture that we just have to figure out how to manage,” he said. “We have amazing, amazing thinkers here – if you can help me, I am open for any suggestions on how to do this.”

As the all call came to a closing, Geers also took the opportunity to reflect on his time with the Wing commander and how much it’s meant to him.
“I do want to say thank you for an amazing year,” he said. “You’ve given me the opportunity to serve next to you and for you—its been amazing; thank you for everything.”

Before ending his final all call as the 23rd Wing commander, Cook parted with words of pride and encouragement for the Flying Tigers.

“I’m going to miss the hell out of this place. I love the chip you guys have on your shoulder; I love the heritage,” he said. “Colonel Sheets will be coming in … I've known him for a long time. He's the best rescue leader I've ever met in my life; he’s also one of the best Air Force officers I've ever met in my career – I’d follow him anywhere and I know he'll lead the Flying Tigers to even greater heights.”