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509th Bomb Wing commander promoted to brigadier general

By NICOLE COOKE | The Sedalia Democrat, Sedalia, Mo. (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 12, 2017

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. — Members of the Whiteman Air Force Base gathered Friday morning as John J. Nichols, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, was promoted from colonel to brigadier general.

Nichols was named the 509th commander June 16 and is responsible for the combat readiness of the Air Force's only B-2 base, including development and employment of the B-2's combat capability as part of Air Force Global Strike Command.

Promoting Nichols was Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, who said frequently during his speech that Friday's ceremony was a celebration, something he made sure of with his humorous remarks.

"It's a celebration of what he and his great American family are going to do," Harencak said. "You see, we promote on the promise of future performance. We know based on the incredible body of work he has, we know what's coming and what's coming is what we promoted him on. And that is an incredible body of work that is still going to be done by this great American and his awesome family as they continue to selflessly serve our airmen, our Air Force and our nation."

According to his biography, Nichols graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in political science.

He also has three master's degrees in military science, military arts and science, and national security strategy.

Since starting at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, in 1992, Nichols has been stationed at a total of 10 bases in the U.S., one in Germany and one in Qatar. Nichols is a command pilot with more than 2,270 flight hours, including 662 combat hours.

"Let me tell you something — we know we need this man's leadership in the future. The threats against our nation, the continual challenges we will have to defend America, to fly, fight and win ..." Harencak said. "We need his professionalism. We need his dedication. We need his incredible work ethic, we need his passion, and most of all we need his love that he and (his wife) Michelle have for our airmen, for our airmen's families, for our mission, for our Air Force."

As Whiteman's installation commander, Nichols provides logistics support for the Air Force Reserve 442d Fighter Wing; Missouri Air National Guard 131st Bomb Wing; Air Combat Command 20th Attack Squadron; and the Missouri Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 135th Assault Helicopter Battalion.

Prior to his Whiteman assignment, Nichols served as the Deputy Director of Operations at Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

Showing the humility of a leader, Nichols spent most of his remarks at the end of the ceremony thanking those who helped him get to this point, including mentors, family and members of the Whiteman community.

(c)2017 The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Mo.)
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U.S. Air Force Col. John J. Nichols, the 509th Bomb Wing commander, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 16, 2017. Nichols was promoted from colonel to brigadier general Friday.
JAZMIN SMITH/U.S. AIR FORCE

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