Community welcomes new 180th Fighter Wing commander - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Community welcomes new 180th Fighter Wing commander

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A new commander has taken the reins at the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing in Swanton this month.

Colonel Craig Baker an active duty Air Force command pilot.

On Wednesday evening the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a welcome reception at the Toledo Club in his honor.

"It's both a privilege and an honor for me to be the commander out there," says Colonel Craig Baker, the new commander of the 180th Fighter Wing which has more than one thousand airmen who stand ready at a moment's notice to deploy anywhere in the world.

Col. Baker says one goal is to enhance their combat power.

"If we didn't have the airmen we have, we wouldn't accomplish the missions," says Col. Baker. "So the airmen and their families are very important to me."

"The 180th Fighter Wing is extremely important to our community," says Wendy Gramza, the Executive Vice President of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Gramza says the base has an economic impact of $189 million a year.

The fighter wing in Swanton at Toledo Express Airport is also a source of pride.

"Everyone in the region has a great deal of respect, of course, for our military, but the 180th has a special place in the minds and hearts of our citizens," says Gramza.

Col. Baker assumes leadership as the Pentagon is proposing budget cuts for the Air Force.  However, the new commander believes the 180th will be spared.

"I'm very confident regardless … with both the federal and state mission that we're responsible for … that we have the mainstay to be here in Ohio for the long haul," says Col. Baker.

Col. Baker is a West Point graduate and active duty Air Force command pilot who has logged more than 2,500 flight hours.

A few weeks ago he became commander of the 180th Fighter Wing replacing Col. Steven Nordhaus who was promoted to a position in Washington.

Col. Baker comes to Northwest Ohio from Las Vegas, Nevada, where he served as vice commander of Nellis Air Force Base.

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