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50th OG changes command

Col. James Smith, 50th Space Wing commander, left, passes the guidon to Col. Matthew Holston, 50th Operations Group commander, during a change of command ceremony June 16, 2020, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Holston assumed command of the 50th OG, which is responsible for more than 77secured satellite communications and GPS satellites that provides secured satellite communications and GPS to billions of users across the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

Col. James Smith, 50th Space Wing commander, left, passes the guidon to Col. Matthew Holston, 50th Operations Group commander, during a change of command ceremony June 16, 2020, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Holston assumed command of the 50th OG, which is responsible for more than 77secured satellite communications and GPS satellites that provides secured satellite communications and GPS to billions of users across the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 50th Operations Group changed command June 16, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

 

Col. Matthew Holston, incoming 50th OG commander assumed command from Col. Laurel Walsh. The ceremonies presiding official was Col. James Smith, 50th Space Wing commander.

 

The 50th OG is comprised of more than 1,100 active duty Airmen who command and control, and execute launch and early orbit for more than 77 secured satellite communications and GPS satellites.

 

“We call Schriever the epicenter of space for a reason, largely due to the ops group,” Smith said. “Space is a warfighting domain, and while the 50th [OG] has known this, [their Airmen] are on the front lines of defending Americans, our allies and our way of life.”

 

During Walsh’s tenure as commander of the 50th OG, the group earned Air Force recognition as the best space operations crew in 2018 and earned the 2019 Gen. George C. Kenney Lessons Learned award, which recognizes the year’s most notable lessons learned that contribute to the Air Force’s mission. Additionally, the 50th OG led the Space Force’s largest mission qualification training program, graduating 229 space warfighters.

 

“I am confident you will build on the work of Colonel Walsh and all the previous 50th Ops group commanders by excelling in the role of group commander,” Smith said addressing Holston. “You are assuming command of the all-star team of space warfighting. There’s no sky too high or challenge too large. You are the right commander at the right time to build upon the legends of the past and take the group to new heights.”

 

Before gaining command of the 50th OG, Holston served as the deputy director of the Space and Special Programs Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia.

 

“I can’t express how humbled I am to be standing here today,” Holston said. “What an honor it is to be leading the 50th [OG].”

 

Holston has served in the Air Force since 1999 and has command experience with the 45th Launch Support Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Holston said the mission wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of Airmen.

 

“You may not realize it yet, but you are our current and future Air and Space Force leaders and I’m incredibly excited to be serving alongside you,” he said.

 

Walsh, who served two years as the commander of the 50th OG, is heading to the Pentagon to serve in the United States Space Force Mission Support Office.

 

“I am humbled and honored to have had the chance to return to the 50th Operations Group,” she said. “I was here as a [company grade officer] and never in a million years did I think I’d come back as the commander, but it’s been an amazing experience.”

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