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Three squadron leaders assume command

Lt. Col. Ronald Crouch (left), Master Sgt. Eric McCann, Maj. R. Thomas Nieukirk, and Col. William P. Robertson pose after the change of command ceremony for the 264th Combat Communications Squadron Jan. 9, 2016 in Peoria, Ill. Robertson, commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing, presided over the event, where Nieukirk assumed command of the squadron from Crouch. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

Lt. Col. Ronald Crouch (left), Master Sgt. Eric McCann, Maj. R. Thomas Nieukirk, and Col. William P. Robertson pose after the change of command ceremony for the 264th Combat Communications Squadron Jan. 9, 2016 in Peoria, Ill. Robertson, commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing, presided over the event, where Nieukirk assumed command of the squadron from Crouch. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

Maj. Gary Velasquez, left, accepts the 182nd Security Forces Squadron guidon from Col. Cory Reid, commander of the 182nd Mission Support Group, during a change of command Jan. 9, 2016. At right is Lt. Col. Todd Leach, outgoing Security Forces Squadron commander. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Blake Pumphrey)

Maj. Gary Velasquez, left, accepts the 182nd Security Forces Squadron guidon from Col. Cory Reid, commander of the 182nd Mission Support Group, during a change of command Jan. 9, 2016. At right is Lt. Col. Todd Leach, outgoing Security Forces Squadron commander. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Blake Pumphrey)

Maj. Robert Reed, left, Col. Cory Reid, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Edie O'Bryan, and Master Sgt. Steven Hoenig stand at attention prior to Reed assuming command of the 182nd Logistics Readiness Squadron from O'Bryan in a ceremony Jan. 9, 2016, in Peoria, Ill. Reid, 182nd Mission Support Group commander, presided over the event. (Air National Guard photo by Capt. Timothy Langkan)

Maj. Robert Reed, left, Col. Cory Reid, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Edie O'Bryan, and Master Sgt. Steven Hoenig stand at attention prior to Reed assuming command of the 182nd Logistics Readiness Squadron from O'Bryan in a ceremony Jan. 9, 2016, in Peoria, Ill. Reid, 182nd Mission Support Group commander, presided over the event. (Air National Guard photo by Capt. Timothy Langkan)

Peoria, Ill. -- Three Illinois Air National Guard officers reported for duty Jan. 9 to begin the next chapter of their careers at 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill.

Maj.Tom Nieukirk of the 264th Combat Communications Squadron, Maj. Robert Reed of the 182nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and Maj. Gary Velasquez of the 182nd Security Forces Squadron had their squadron's guidons handed to them as they assumed the role of commander during their change of command ceremonies.

Lt. Col. Ronald Crouch relinquished command of the 264th Combat Communications Squadron to Nieukirk.

"As you are well aware, this is a bitter-sweet moment for me. Being part of the 264th and serving with you has been the most rewarding and gratifying part of my nearly 4-decade career," Crouch said.

Nieukirk asked his new Airmen to help him grow while he helps them do the same.

"My challenge for each one of you is to determine what you are looking for in a leader. Challenge me with those things. Allow me to be continually challenged and to grow as leader that you all deserve. Not the leader I want to be, the leader that you deserve," he said.

182nd Airlift Wing Commander Col. William P. Robertson presided over the ceremony.

"Maj. Tom Nieukirk has some big shoes to fill, and I know he is up for the task," Robertson said. "He has a wealth of experience in the electronic communication field. The operational challenges await him, and I know he will be successful."

Velasquez assumed command from Lt. Col. Todd Leach in the Security Forces Squadron building next door. Leach will be assuming the assignment of 182nd Mission Support Group deputy commander.

"I am very honored to be the commander of the best security forces squadron in the Air Force," Velasquez said. "I look forward to the challenges that come with the job, and I am very excited to be able to lead an outstanding group of defenders."

Col. Cory Reid, the 182nd Mission Support Group Commander, presided over both the Security Forces Squadron and Logistics Readiness Squadron changes of command.

"Maj. Velasquez is bringing over 18 years security forces and intel experience to this new role," Reid said. "He is a proven leader having most recently deployed as security operations officer to the Southwest Asia theatre of operations in 2014.  I'm confident Gary will continue the long history of excellence in the 182nd Security Forces Squadron."

Leach expressed gratitude for his new assignment.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the deputy mission support group commander. I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities for growth that this position will afford me," he said.

"Maj. Velesquez has had a great mentor and teacher and this will continue the excellence started by Lt. Col. Leach," Robertson said. "I look forward to [Security Forces] continuing its excellence under Maj. Velesquez. He also brings a wealth of depth and experience to the squadron."

Across the base in the small air terminal, the Logistics Readiness Squadron welcomed Maj. Robert Reed as their new commander. Retired Lt. Col. Edie O'Bryan traveled back to Peoria for the ceremony to transfer her commander responsibilities to Reed.

"I am excited and honored to have to opportunity to be the Logistics Readiness Squadron commander," Reed said. "I look forward to working with an outstanding group of personnel who are dedicated to supporting the mission and strive for excellence."

"Maj. Reed  is bringing over 24 years of Supply and Logistics Officer experience to this new role, " Reid said.  "He has previously served as Aerial Port Flight Commander with leadership experience while deployed to SWA theatre of operations in 2011.  I'm excited with Rob's immediate and expert command of this complex organization; I'm confident he will push the unit to new levels of excellence."

"Maj. Reed brings a wealth of experience to the Logistics Readiness Squadron. Lt. Col. O'Bryan left a great legacy in that squadron. Maj. Reed will be able to take the squadron to the next level," Robertson said.