By Tech. Sgt. Stephen Collier
310th Space Wing Public Affairs
It was only fitting that Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Kent Leonard would assume the command of his first Reserve squadron he joined after leaving active duty from the Regular Air Force. For Leonard, it was a bit like coming home Saturday as he assumed the position of the 7th Space Operations Squadron commander here.
In traditional military fashion, Leonard received the squadron’s guidon from Lt. Col. Michael Assid, acting 310th Operations Group commander, during the ceremony at Bldg. 300’s auditorium, kicking off his tenure as the new commander. After being presented with the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Leonard took to the podium to address 7 SOPS Airmen.
“7 SOPS has embodied innovation in space operations, with the men and women of the squadron always maintaining a warfighter focus,” said Leonard, a native of Kingsport, Tenn. “There will always be challenges for the squadron, but I know the men and women of 7 SOPS will be ready like they have shown many times in the past. We will continue to lead the way, regardless of the squadron’s mission.”
Leonard assumed command of the squadron in late January after the earlier departure of Lt. Col. William Fellows, who became part of the 310th Space Wing staff to lead the commander’s action group in late August. Before taking his current position, Fellows served in 7 SOPS for just under 10 years.
Leonard highlighted his desire to ensure squadron members had access to professional development opportunities, while also praising the unit’s “outside the box” thinking supporting operations and training.
“My aim is to develop members of 7 SOPS to not only be the future squadron, group and wing leadership, but also be the next Air Force Reserve leaders,” he said. “We’ve also been challenging the way the AF Reserve participates in missions. Members schedule their drill weekends throughout the month to meet operational needs while maintaining readiness. This is a perfect example of how we lead the way in ensuring our members can maintain their work-life balance while supporting satellite operations.”
Assid said Leonard was “a leader who cares about his mission, cares about his people and wants to make a difference.”
“He will lead this squadron to many great things,” Assid said. “This is the right guy, this is the right time, and this is absolutely the right organization. When you join a squadron and put that patch on, you put your name on a roster. And depending on the organization, there could be hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of names before you. The burden falls to you, whether you are a two-striper performing operations, a flight commander, or a squadron commander, to live up to that squadron’s heritage and add to its legacy.”
Assid also highlighted what the end result of 7 SOPS intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission was for those present. With the squadron operating the Operationally Responsive Space Satellite-1, providing support to combatant commanders in the Southwest Asia and Pacific theater of operations, Assid pointed out who benefitted from their mission in the end.
“At the distant end of everything we do in the space business, don’t forget there’s a 19-year-old with an M-4 in a foxhole who wants to do his job, guard this nation and return safely home to his family. 7 SOPS contributes to that every day.”