23rd Wing welcomes new commander

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

The 23rd Wing welcomed Col. Paul Sheets and said farewell to Col. Russ Cook during a change of command ceremony July 6, 2023, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

The ceremony represents the continuing legacy of the Flying Tigers under new leadership and was presided over by Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski, 15th Air Force commander.

Before introducing the new commander, Koscheski praised Cook’s achievements in building an inclusive next generation of Airmen, the success of Air Combat Command’s first Lead Wing and the accomplishments of the HH-60 Whiskey initial operational capabilities and employment – recognizing Cook’s leadership style as the epitome of readiness and resilience.


“As we witness this change of command we honor the history of the renowned Flying Tigers,” he said. “Bones, you have led the Flying Tigers with an unwavering spirit – shaping combat-ready, resilient Airmen and pushing through a crucial period.”


As Koscheski introduced Sheets, he expressed his confidence in not only his leadership but also the legacy he’ll continue to grow.


“As we transition into this new chapter in Flying Tiger history, I am confident you are the right person to lead the 23rd Wing,” he said. “Your experience, leadership and dedication embody our legacy and will guide us forward - welcome to the Flying Tigers.”

Sheets assumes command with extensive leadership experience. He is a command pilot with over 2,700 flight hours in various aircraft.


“I look forward to working with all of you as we will continue to uphold the values, motivation and drive to succeed which made the Flying Tigers what they are ... support for each other and our families, unparalleled respect to all, grit to overcome life’s challenges, all while delivering the highest standards in all we do,” Sheets said.


With a track record of excellence, Koscheski said Sheets exemplifies the spirit of the Flying Tigers – ready, resourceful and resilient, making him undoubtedly prepared for his role as the 23rd Wing commander.


“Today is a momentous day for the Flying Tigers as we say farewell to Col. Russ “Bones” Cook, his high school sweetheart Steph, and their children. I offer a heartfelt thank you to Col Cook’s family for enabling his tremendous leadership during a transitional era,” Koscheski said. “At the same time, we give a warm 15th Air Force welcome to our next commander Col. Paul “Gyro” Sheets, (and his family).”


As Sheets assumed command, he conveyed his gratitude and excitement in returning to Moody, a familiar community from his time as a young officer.


“This command and the Airmen who came before us have done amazing things, he said. “The Flying Tiger heritage should inspire us all to be a little better, to work a little harder.”

Assuming command from Bones, a career-long friend, Gyro pledges the same level of commitment in leading the Wing as one of the best.

“When the nation calls the Flying Tigers will continue to deliver close air support, combat rescue and agile command and control of expeditionary air forces better than anyone else,” Sheets said, “Attack, rescue, prevail ... Tigers Lead,”