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50th NOG changes command

Col. James Smith, 50th Space Wing commander, left, passes the 50th Network Operations Group guidon to Col. Roy Rockwell at a change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 16, 2020. Rockwell joins the 50th NOG after serving as the Pacific Air Forces Deputy Chief Information Officer and Chief of Command and Control Capabilities and Integration Division at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

Col. James Smith, 50th Space Wing commander, left, passes the 50th Network Operations Group guidon to Col. Roy Rockwell at a change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 16, 2020. Rockwell joins the 50th NOG after serving as the Pacific Air Forces Deputy Chief Information Officer and Chief of Command and Control Capabilities and Integration Division at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 50th Network Operations Group welcomed new leadership during a change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 16, 2020.

Col. James Smith, 50th Space Wing commander, presided over the ceremony, transferring command to Col. Roy Rockwell from outgoing commander, Col. Hewett Wells.

“I’m extremely proud to be here,” Rockwell said. “I almost pinched myself this morning, it just seems surreal. It’s unbelievable… I’m humbled and honored by this opportunity during such an amazing time in space history.”

Rockwell joins the 50th NOG after serving as the Pacific Air Forces Deputy Chief Information Officer and Chief of Command and Control Capabilities and Integration Division at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Wells is heading to Peterson Air Force Base, where he will serve as the deputy director, operations and communications, Headquarters U.S. Space Force.

“Today we say goodbye to an all-star leader, Colonel Hewett Wells, who has faithfully lead our 50th Network Operations Group for the past two years,” Smith said. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of the 50th NOG. Our American way of life and American way of war would be placed in significant jeopardy without the cyber and communication operations you and your team have provided. With a reach and span of 11 different time zones, the NOG gives truth to the saying that, ‘The sun never sets on the 50th Space Wing.’”

Smith highlighted Well’s accomplishments during his time as commander.

“During the past two years, our Airmen and senior leaders have been busy establishing a new branch of the military while remaining at the forefront of the largest, most critical warfighting domain,” Smith said. “Thanks to you and the NOG’s uncanny ability to connect and protect, we’ve been able to project unrivaled warfighting superiority over these past two years.”

During his time as the 50th NOG commander, Wells enabled more than 330,000 satellite contacts, 39 launches, to include the first human space flight launch from American soil in more than 10 years, came to the rescue with 19 space vehicle emergency assists, stood up the first Air Force Cyber Defense Correlation Cell for space, and drove a 99 percent mission success rate across the $6.8 billion Air Force Satellite Control Network, among other accomplishments.

“To the men and women of the 50th Network Operations Group, the accomplishments across the past two years are many,” Wells said. “Let me just say thank you for what you do day in and day out.”

After Wells received the Legion of Merit, Rockwell officially assumed command of the group. Smith said his goodbyes to Wells and welcomed Rockwell.

“Hugh, it’s been a pleasure,” Smith said. “Change of commands are always bitter-sweet; we’re sad to see you leave, but excited for your future and future opportunities. Rocky, welcome to the epicenter of space, and welcome to the 50th Space Wing family.”

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