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Commander of MacDill transfers to Pentagon post

Brig. Gen. Wayne Hodges turns over command of the base to Col. David Synder.

©Associated Press

January 12, 2003

TAMPA -- MacDill Air Force base has a new commander.

Brig. Gen. Wayne Hodges turned over command of the base Friday to Col. David Synder, ending a 17-month charge that spanned the country's renewed fight against terrorism.

"The bottom line is you should all be extremely proud of what you have accomplished and know that I am proud of each and every one of you," Hodges told his troops. "But what is much more important, you have made our nation proud."

Hodges is transferring to the Pentagon, where he will help oversee U.S. airlifts, air refueling, training and special operations worldwide. He has been nominated to become a major general, but that has to be approved by the Senate.

Hodges assumed command of the base six weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

MacDill, home to headquarters for Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, sent its KC-135 Stratotankers overseas to refuel the first Air Force bomber strike missions against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

The base also has been noted for its performance during Operation Noble Eagle after the terrorist attacks, refueling fighters patrolling various U.S. cities around the clock.

While that was happening, the base runway was undergoing its first major renovation since it was built in the 1940s, shutting down parts of it for extended periods.

The Coalition Village was constructed on the base for foreign troops serving at U.S. Central Command, which oversaw military operations in Afghanistan and is preparing for possible war with Iraq.

Synder, whose last assignment was at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, said he felt honored to command an organization with a "worldwide reputation of excellence."

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