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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — U.S. Force Japan and 5th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright will retire in February after a 35-year career, according to a USFJ press release Sunday.

A career fighter pilot with the call sign “Orville,” Wright’s effective retirement date will be April 1.

Lt. Gen.-select Edward A. Rice, Pacific Air Forces vice commander at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, has been confirmed by the Senate to take command of USFJ and 5th Air Force as Wright’s successor.

Wright assumed the dual-hat command in Feb. 2005. During his tenure he has focused on strengthening the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance and cross-training of the two militaries. He also oversees execution of the “2-plus-2” — U.S. Defense and State departments plus Japanese Defense and Foreign ministries — direction to establish common strategic objectives for the bilateral military alliance.

Among those tasks has been to improve ballistic missile defense capability for Japan.

Beginning with his first tour of duty in Japan in 1978 as an F-4C “Wild Weasel” instructor pilot at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa through his current command, Wright has more than eight years collective military service over four assignments in Japan.

“It has been an honor to serve, primarily in overseas units and combat wings,” Wright said in the release.

Rice’s Air Force flying experience has been mainly in B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers. He was awarded the Air Combat Command 2002 Moller Trophy for outstanding wing commander after a two-year assignment as commander of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

A date for the change of command and Wright’s retirement ceremony, expected to be held at Yokota, has yet to be announced.

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