By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
167th Airlift Wing
The West Virginia Air National Guard welcomed its new commander during a change of command ceremony at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, W.Va., March 7.
Brig. Gen. Christopher Walker relinquished command of the states two flying wings and 2,100 members to Brig. Gen. Ray Shepard during the ceremony presided over by Brig. Gen. William Crane, the Adjutant General for the West Virginia National Guard.
Crane explained to the audience, many of whom were viewing a live stream of the ceremony due to COVID-19 limitations, that Walker was selected to serve as a special assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard, leading diversity and inclusion at the National Guard Bureau.
“I look forward to continue working with you on that endeavor and I really appreciate you taking that responsibility,” Crane said. “It’s a big deal to me. I think we can’t be the ‘One Guard’ family that I want us to be without having everybody raised up in the organization.”
Walker, who served as the Assistant Adjutant General- Air for West Virginia for two years said, “It has been a tremendous honor and a tremendous privilege to lead this organization and I’m not disappearing into the ether. I am always going to be here for you.”
Walker encouraged the WVANG to carry on the sense of family and create a sense of belonging for all Airmen.
“Show them how to become Air Force warriors and how to be members of the West Virginia Air National Guard,” he said.
Shepard joined the WVANG in 1999 and served as a Judge Advocate for the 167th AW and then as the State Judge Advocate. Prior to taking command of the WVANG he served as the deputy commander and Chief of Staff for the WVANG.
“I started my career as a Senior Airman in 1985, never would’ve thought I would be standing on this stage, ever. But, the West Virginia Air National Guard is my family and I’m proud to be its commander,” Shepard said, adding, “I promise I’ll do the best I can and lead with integrity.”