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Mr. BENTZ. Madam Speaker, I rise to recognize Colonel Jeffrey B. Edwards, United States Air Force, for his exceptional dedication and distinguished service to the United States of America. Colonel Edwards will retire on May 15, 2022, from his current assignment as the Commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. We thank him for his commitment to our country over the past 27 years.
Colonel Edwards graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1995. His first mission took him to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, then to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, and then Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea. During his time in Alaska, he was deployed twice to defend our nation, which included 52 combat sorties in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in Iraq and Operation ALLIED FORCE, over eastern Europe. In 2000, he was assigned to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, where he served as an F-15C fighter pilot instructor, training the next generation of fighter pilots. In 2003, Colonel Edwards was stationed in Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea as the Chief of Air Defense Plans for the 7th Air Force. After his service in Korea, in 2004, he joined the Oregon National Guard at Kingsley Field. In 2006, Colonel Edwards attended United States Air Force Weapons School. In 2019, after serving in several positions at Kingsley Field, he earned the Command of the 173rd Fighter Wing. Colonel Edwards has been awarded the 173rd Fighter Wing Instructor Pilot of the Year award, the USAF Weapons School F-15 Academic Award, the 19th Air Force Air-to-Air Fighter Pilot Instructor of the Year, the Meritorious Service Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. His service has included over 3,200 flight hours. Colonel Edwards embodies the Air Force Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do as a Commander, leader, and Airman.
Kingsley Field is a critical asset for American national security. It serves as an outstanding training center for the Air National Guard and active-duty pilots. In Colonel Edwards' time as Commander, Kingsley Field was designated as first in line to function as a formal training unit for the Boeing F-15EX fighter jet. A critical part of domestic defense missions, the first operational F-15EX squadron was designated to operate in the Oregon Air National Guard. Additionally, Colonel Edwards led Kingsley Field effectively through the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans were formalized for Kingsley Field's dedicated men and women to support their families while carefully maintaining the overall mission. In 2021, he seamlessly balanced the activation of over 250 Airmen for COVID-19 and hospital support. In 2022, over 145 members were activated to help the State of Oregon's deal with the Omicron variant. During this time, never once did Colonel Edwards' leadership waver. He stands on the front line, supporting innovation in aircraft, managing issues as they arise, and holding fast to a vision of a better future.
Furthermore, Colonel Edwards extends his focus on the future beyond his service to the men and women of Kingsley Field as a member of my Military Service Academy Nomination Board, which includes other exceptional active and retired officers. His experience as an Air Force Academy graduate, a pilot and a leader provides invaluable help as he, and the other military officers of my annual nomination board, interview students to assess their character, leadership, physical aptitude, motivation, academic preparation, extracurricular, and community service activities.
For a man who has demonstrated such strong leadership, allegiance, and sacrifice during his service to our Nation, recognition is a very modest attempt to thank him.
We indeed owe a serious debt of gratitude to Colonel Edwards, because, though technology, time, and power may change, the attributes of a good leader remain unchanged. Colonel Edwards has dedicated his life to this nation, and we thank him for the service, vision, and leadership he has demonstrated both at home and abroad.
Madam Speaker, as we reach the culmination of his distinguished career, I join my colleagues today in congratulating Colonel Edwards for his lifetime of service to our country. We wish him, his wife, Teresa, and their six children: Matthew 22, Anna 20, Andrew 17, Rachel 14, Sarah 12, and James 10 best wishes as he retires from the United States Air Force.
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