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Keesler welcomes new training wing commander

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, passes the guidon to Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, during a change of command ceremony at the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next. Blackwell assumed command of the 81st TRW from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, passes the guidon to Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, during a change of command ceremony at the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next. Blackwell assumed command of the 81st TRW from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, addresses her new command during a change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, addresses her new command during a change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Debra Lovette, outgoing 81st Training Wing commander, salutes Airmen as they march by during the change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next by the handing-off of a ceremonial guidon. Lovette is now assigned to the U.S. Space Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Debra Lovette, outgoing 81st Training Wing commander, salutes Airmen as they march by during the change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next by the handing-off of a ceremonial guidon. Lovette is now assigned to the U.S. Space Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, delivers remarks during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Col. Debra Lovette, relinquished command of the 81st TRW to Col. Heather Blackwell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, delivers remarks during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Col. Debra Lovette, relinquished command of the 81st TRW to Col. Heather Blackwell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Airmen from the 81st Training Group march during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Col. Heather Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Spencer Tobler)

Airmen from the 81st Training Group march during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Col. Heather Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Spencer Tobler)

Airmen from the 81st Training Group march in formation during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. U.S. Air Force Col. Debra Lovette passed on command of the 81st TRW to Col. Heather Blackwell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Airmen from the 81st Training Group march in formation during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. U.S. Air Force Col. Debra Lovette passed on command of the 81st TRW to Col. Heather Blackwell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tony Planter-Burgess, 336th Training Squadron student, salutes during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Col. Heather Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tony Planter-Burgess, 336th Training Squadron student, salutes during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Col. Heather Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Keesler leadership stand at attention during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next by the handing-off of a ceremonial guidon. U.S. Air Force Col. Debra Lovette, relinquished command of the 81st TRW to Col. Heather Blackwell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Keesler leadership stand at attention during the 81st Training Wing change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next by the handing-off of a ceremonial guidon. U.S. Air Force Col. Debra Lovette, relinquished command of the 81st TRW to Col. Heather Blackwell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, and Col. Heather Blackwell, incoming 81st Training Wing commander, look on as Col. Debra Lovette, outgoing 81st TRW commander, delivers her speech during the 81st TRW change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, and Col. Heather Blackwell, incoming 81st Training Wing commander, look on as Col. Debra Lovette, outgoing 81st TRW commander, delivers her speech during the 81st TRW change of command ceremony on the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

U.S. Air Force Col. Lance Burnett, 81st Training Wing vice commander, leads the troops during the 81st TRW change of command ceremony at the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next. Col. Heather Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)
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U.S. Air Force Col. Lance Burnett, 81st Training Wing vice commander, leads the troops during the 81st TRW change of command ceremony at the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 16, 2019. The ceremony is a symbol of command being exchanged from one commander to the next. Col. Heather Blackwell assumed command from Col. Debra Lovette. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Col. Heather W. Blackwell assumed command of the 81st Training Wing from outgoing commander Col. Debra A. Lovette, during a change of command ceremony officiated by Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, here, May 16.

Lovette’s tenure at Keesler began in May 2017 and she was crucial to several major breakthroughs that brought positive change to Keesler and the local community.

“In the last two years since I took command, there have been a few significant changes here, none of which could have been done with just the wing involvement,” said Lovette. “One of them is the ground breaking for our Division Street gate, which is a joint project between the community and the base that has been several years in the making. We’ve also been incorporating numerous innovative ways to train our Airmen on everything they need to become operational Airmen wherever they are in the world.”

Lovette has made many memories since arriving to Keesler, while helping to provide a better quality of life for military members, dependents and retirees on the Gulf Coast. Milestones like the Defense Health Agency transition at Keesler Medical Center and the $10 million expansion for cyber training at the 333rd Training Squadron made this assignment one she won’t forget.

At her first wing-level command position, Lovette had the opportunity to lead more than 12,000 personnel and award initial and advanced skills qualifications to more than 58,000 military, civilian and international students. She enabled her team to train, develop and inspire students in 37 different career fields while managing the Air Force’s second largest technical training wing.

Lovette’s next assignment will be at U.S. Space Command.

Her time at Keesler has come to an end, but the outgoing dragon lead leaves behind one piece of advice for her Airmen.

“Don’t be afraid to fail, to step out and try something that may be initially quite uncomfortable and scary,” said Lovette. “See what happens and learn from it. Just keep pressing forward. And never forget, we are better together.”

The event was held on the traditional parade field where Leahy spoke of the dedication Lovette has to the Airmen of Keesler.

“The fact that the 81st Training Wing has lead change and made a difference in the Air Force over the last two years might just be the understatement of the century,” said Leahy. “That [success] is absolutely and unequivocally related to the leadership of Col. Debra Lovette.”

Blackwell is the newest commander to lead the Keesler Dragons and is ready to bring her experience as a Cyberspace Operations Group commander and her knowledge as the director of legislative affairs for U.S. Cyber Command to Keesler.

“When I look at my family I see three generations of teachers and professors,” said Blackwell. “Teaching and education is in our blood, which is why it’s so exciting for me to be a part of the team here at Keesler, whose mission it is to inspire and train Airmen across the spectrum of warfighting.”