145th Operations Group observes promotion and change of command Published June 27, 2015 By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran 145th Public Affairs CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Saturday morning, June 6, 2015, U.S. Air Force officer Joseph H. Stepp IV was a lieutenant colonel and the commander of the 156th Airlift Squadron. By the afternoon, he would be a colonel and the commander of the 145th Operations Group. Stepp relinquished his leadership of the 156th Airlift Squadron over to new commander, Lt. Col. Miles Kevin Harkey during a morning change of command ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport. After the reading of the promotion proclamation and his taking of the new oath, Stepp assumed command of the 145th Operations Group by accepting the 145th OG guidon from Col. Marshall C. Collins, commander 145th Airlift Wing. Stepp now leads more than 270 airmen that are trained to execute a broad range of peacetime and combat missions throughout the state, nation and world, including C-130 airlift and airdrop operations, aeromedical evacuation and aerial firefighting (MAFFS) missions. Col. Stepp entered the Air Force in 1993 earning his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at North Carolina State University. He served for two years as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. prior to joining the North Carolina Air National Guard in 1996. After completion of pilot training, Stepp served as C-130H3 Instructor and Evaluator Pilot, Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) Instructor Pilot, Chief of Weapons and Tactics and Chief of Wing Plans. A combat-tested veteran, Col. Stepp has flown more than 5,600 flying hours to include combat operations while serving on overseas deployments supporting Operations Joint Forge (Enterprise), Coronet Oak, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Looking out in the crowd of familiar faces Stepp spoke to family, distinguished visitors and members of the 145th Airlift Wing. "I've wanted to fly since I was five years old." said Stepp. "I thank my family for all their support throughout the years with my desire to serve as an officer in the Air Force and fly airplanes. This truly is all that I ever wanted to do. With that being said, today is just as much because of you as it is anyone else." "To those that have flown with me, either here or around the world, and to those that I have worked with in a staff capacity, today is a culmination of your support, your excellence and your professionalism. Today is our success, it's our celebration. Over the years, we have all experienced both successes and failures and I assure you that we will experience many more but we will experience them together." As commander of the 145th Operations Group, Col. Stepp concluded by stating, "We are going to focus on empowering one another, encouraging one another and supporting one another. We are going to set high expectations for one another, hold one another accountable and mentor one another. Taking care of and focusing on our, ensures the success of the 145th Airlift Wing's mission."