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145th Mission Support Group welcomes new commander

U.S. Air Force Col. Marshall C. Collins, commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, ceremoniously passes a guidon to Col. Russell L. Ponder, commander of the 145th Mission Support Group, during an assumption of command ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG) Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport; April 9, 2016. The passing of the guidon is an Air Force tradition symbolizing the delegation of the commanding role and responsibility from one officer to another. Ponder, former commander of the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, comes back to the NCANG after serving over five years at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Laura Montgomery/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Marshall C. Collins, commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, ceremoniously passes a guidon to Col. Russell L. Ponder, commander of the 145th Mission Support Group, during an assumption of command ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG) Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport; April 9, 2016. The passing of the guidon is an Air Force tradition symbolizing the delegation of the commanding role and responsibility from one officer to another. Ponder, former commander of the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, comes back to the NCANG after serving over five years at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Laura Montgomery/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Marshall C. Collins (left), commander, 145th Airlift Wing, passes the 145th Mission Support Group (MSG) guidon to Col. Russell Ponder (right) signifying his assumption of command of the MSG during a ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, April 9, 2016. The passing of the guidon is a long standing military tradition to signify a change in leadership and is a tradition carried on today. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Marshall C. Collins (left), commander, 145th Airlift Wing, passes the 145th Mission Support Group (MSG) guidon to Col. Russell Ponder (right) signifying his assumption of command of the MSG during a ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, April 9, 2016. The passing of the guidon is a long standing military tradition to signify a change in leadership and is a tradition carried on today. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Russell Ponder, commander, 145th Mission Support Group (MSG), addresses a formation of 145th MSG Airmen during an assumption of command ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, April 9, 2016. Ponder discussed his goals and his readiness to tackle the challenges in the future. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Russell Ponder, commander, 145th Mission Support Group (MSG), addresses a formation of 145th MSG Airmen during an assumption of command ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, April 9, 2016. Ponder discussed his goals and his readiness to tackle the challenges in the future. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Russell L. Ponder, commander of the 145th Mission Support Group, addresses his Airmen during an assumption of command ceremony held in his honor at the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG) Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport; April 9, 2016. Ponder, former commander of the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, comes back to the NCANG after serving over five years at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Laura Montgomery/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Russell L. Ponder, commander of the 145th Mission Support Group, addresses his Airmen during an assumption of command ceremony held in his honor at the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG) Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport; April 9, 2016. Ponder, former commander of the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, comes back to the NCANG after serving over five years at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Laura Montgomery/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Russell L. Ponder, commander of the 145th Mission Support Group, addresses distinguished visitors and his Airmen during an assumption of command ceremony held in his honor at the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG) Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport; April 9, 2016. Ponder, former commander of the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, comes back to the NCANG after serving over five years at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Laura Montgomery/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Russell L. Ponder, commander of the 145th Mission Support Group, addresses distinguished visitors and his Airmen during an assumption of command ceremony held in his honor at the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG) Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport; April 9, 2016. Ponder, former commander of the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, comes back to the NCANG after serving over five years at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Laura Montgomery/Released)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Under Carolina blue skies, Col. Russell L. Ponder stood before distinguished guests and Airmen of the 145th Airlift Wing as he assumed command of the 145th Mission Support Group during a ceremony held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, April 9, 2016.

In a long standing military tradition, Col. Marshall C. Collins, commander of the 145th Airlift Wing, passed the 145th Mission Support Group guidon to Col. Ponder signifying his assumption of command.

"In the coming months, possible years, there is going to be some significant change here in this wing, especially for the Mission Support Group. The Mission Support Group will be at the fore-front of leading this change. I couldn't think of a better individual to lead this transition," said Collins.

Col. Ponder was commissioned in 1991 through the Academy of Military Science. Prior to receiving his commission he served as an enlisted member of the 136th Civil Engineer Squadron in the Texas Air National Guard. Throughout his career, Ponder has held a myriad of positions at the local, state and national levels. Most notably, he commanded the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron here, performed as the State Civil Engineer for the Texas Air National Guard and advised the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force on National Guard Affairs as a Legislative Liaison. Additionally, Ponder was selected as a National Defense Fellow and has managed the Office of the Director, Air National Guard on numerous occasions as Executive Officer.

As he stood before his Airmen, Ponder took a moment to speak to the men and women of the 145th Mission Support Group.

"We have to do in life what makes us happy, what we enjoy doing, and that to me is part of our job. If we're not happy in a position that we're in, we don't do a good job....so we should be happy in our job. We should challenge ourselves to do things outside the box," said Ponder.

"There are a lot of changes we're going to have to go through. This is going to take a lot of dedication from each and every one of you. I'm up for the challenge, ready for it, and I want to be there for all the members of the Mission Support Group," Ponder said.