Helphinstine to succeed Yates at Seymour Johnson

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GOLDSBORO — U.S. Air Force Col. Kurt Helphinstine took command of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Thursday morning.

Col. Donn Yates relinquished command as he retires from the Air Force after nearly 28 years of service.

“I remember the first time I came through these gates, I couldn’t believe I was going to learn to fly,” said Yates. “Being the commander of the 4th Fighter Wing has been the adventure of a lifetime, and we have accomplished so much. The wing is in great hands with Col. Helphinstine, and I will hold you all in my heart as you go forward and lead the way; setting the standard, and breaking barriers.”

Helphinstine, an F-15 command pilot with 2,700 flight hours and 905 combat hours, is coming from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where he served as the deputy commander of operations since 2018.

“I cannot wait to build on the foundation of lethality, readiness, and professionalism that Col. Yates has reinforced throughout our Wing,” said Helphinstine. “Together, we will transform the 4th Fighter Wing into a lead wing; prepared to rapidly blunt and defeat the baddest, finest and meanest of enemy. Let’s get to work.”

Helphinstine also praised Yates for his leadership.

“The 4 FW is blessed to have been led by the finest, most selfless and transformational leader in the Air Force.”

Helphinstine will now head the 4th Fighter Wing, which encompasses one of the Air Force’s largest fighter wings, with 94 F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft and nearly 7,000 total force Airmen.

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