Fort Carson's only airmen receive a new commander

Then-Capt. Craig Cude attends a Landing Zone Safety Officer class at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan on Feb. 16, 2011. Lt. Col. Craig Cude assumed his position of commander of the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron on Fort Carson in July, 2019.


By DANAE BUCCI | The Gazette | Published: July 5, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — Lt. Col. Jeff Strange felt like he had won the Air Force lottery when he found out he would get to command the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron on Fort Carson.

But now, two years later, he will leave his post as new leadership takes shape.

It was a multi-base affair as Fort Carson’s only Air Force members on post received a new commander to take charge. With the Rampart mountain range as a backdrop and about 40 onlookers, Lt. Col. Craig Cude assumed his position of commander. He said he looks forward to carrying on the Air Force mission on Fort Carson with some of the most talented airmen in the service.

“They’re considered special warfare airmen, so they’re a little cut above the rest, both physically and mentally in their abilities,” said Cude, who’s been in the service for 16 years.

The 13th Air Support Operations Squadron is unparalleled in its success. Col. Charles Drouillard, the 3rd Air Support Operations Group Commander at Fort Hood Army Installation in Texas said that often a commander’s success is measured by the triumph of their squadron. Several aimen have won prestigious awards under Strange’s leadership, and his legacy probably will be felt for years as he leaves to teach at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“The opportunity to lead a group of men and women who are of such high caliber as the ones that I just got finished leading is a frankly kind of hard to put into words,” Strange said. “It’s an awesome responsibility, I got the chance to work with the best people in the Air Force, the best people in the duty in my opinion, and help them to go down range and fight on behalf of our nation is the highest of honor I could imagine.”

As Strange’s story comes full circle, teaching cadets how to fly at his alma mater, Cude’s is just getting started.

He is most looking forward to getting to know the members of the squadron. “One of the reasons I volunteered to lead this kind of squadron was because there are a lot of young airmen that are still growing, have a long way to develop, and I get to play a role in mentoring them along with my other supervisors and leaders.”

But Cude emphasized that he is not expecting the airmen to be perfect, despite their reputation of being as such. He hopes that those inevitable mistakes will lead to greatness on the battlefield.

“My goal is to kind of have them embrace a learning attitude, not just training. I want them to have small failures so they can learn from those so when they go down range they’re succeeding and not failing,” he said. “I want to build more professional culture within this community and be as tactically proficient as I can. I’m just looking forward to leading and growing with them.”

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