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Keesler welcomes new commander of 2nd Air Force

BILOXI, Miss. — Brig. Gen. Mark Brown told himself he'd never use the term "dream job," but he just couldn't help himself Thursday morning.

Standing in front of hundreds of airmen — now his airmen — at Keesler Air Force Base, Brown gladly accepted command of the 2nd Air Force during a ceremony in front of the Levitow Training Support Facility.

Brown comes to the 2nd Air Force, which conducts basic military and nonflying technical training, after serving as comptroller, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. He takes over for Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, who took command in July 2011.

It's a treat for Brown to return to the South, and to Mississippi specifically. He previously held the position of commander of the 14th Mission Support Group at Columbus Air Force Base from 2007 until 2009 and one of his two sons attends Mississippi State. Also, with his wife, Gwen, having grown up in Georgia, the new assignment is exciting both professionally and personally.

"I have no specific promises for you today, but I do have some guarantees," Brown said during his opening remarks. "One guarantee is that when I do give this flag back, and I hope that's a long, long time from now, that you will have gotten the absolute best that Gwen and I have to offer."

Professionally, Brown called the opportunity to mold airmen an honor.

"Airmen are made and not born," he said. "It's the making of airmen that defines our mission and we must give it our undivided attention."

Even with all of the changes throughout the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense, Brown said he believes airmen are as good as they have ever been. The task ahead of the 2nd Air Force, he said, is finding the right mix of personnel as the nation comes out of more than two decades at war.

"Our challenge now is to find out what is required in those inter-war years, to have the force ready for that next threat," he said.

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