515th AMOW welcomes Col. Benwitz as new commander

  • Published
  • By Ms. Amelia Dickson
  • 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing

Col. Kyle Benwitz assumed command of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing during a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on June 28.

Maj. Gen. Mark D. Camerer, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, presided over the ceremony in which Col. Dan Cooley relinquished command of the wing to Benwitz.

During the ceremony, Camerer commended Cooley for his work leading the 515th AMOW’s 1,700 personnel and his dedication to operations in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. He also highlighted his confidence in Benwitz’s ability to lead the wing to further success in the ever-changing region.

"Col. Cooley has done a great job leading the men and women of the 515th through the evolving focus by our country's leaders on the Pacific theater.” Camerer said. "I have no doubt that Col. Benwitz will continue to advance the global response network of the Expeditionary Center enterprise through the Airmen of the 515th."

Benwitz, who previously served as vice commander of the 621st Contingency Response Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, now the leads the Air Mobility Command unit responsible for movement of cargo and personnel throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

“The 515th AMOW plays a critical role in moving essential goods and personnel throughout the region, supporting our joint partners in maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific Area of Responsibility,” Benwitz said. “I’m proud to join a team of Airmen who work tirelessly to execute the U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command mission in this vital region at this critical point in history.”

In fiscal year 2021 alone, the 515th AMOW executed 29,222 missions, moving 352,376 passengers and 302,013 tons of cargo. The wing won the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in both 2020 and 2021.

The 515th AMOW executed Exercise Nodal Lightning during Cooley’s tenure as commander, demonstrating the wing’s resiliency using multi-capable Airman capabilities and testing the wing’s ability to meet global mobility needs during wartime and peacetime.

“During my time with the 515th AMOW, our Airmen have proved time and time again that they are ready and able to meet a myriad of challenges in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Col. Cooley. “I’m honored to have served alongside these dedicated women and men, and to have been part of the 515th AMOW team.”

Cooley was presented with the Legion of Merit during the ceremony. He will stay within the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center and Air Mobility Command family, with his next assignment as commander of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Benwitz commissioned in 1997 after attending the United States Air Force Academy. Prior to serving the 621st CRW, he was chief of U.S. Transportation Command’s strategy division. He also served as a squadron commander, and deployed in support of operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, United Assistance, and Inherent Resolve.

The 515th AMOW, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, oversees two groups and six air mobility squadrons strategically located throughout the Indo-Pacific region in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Japan and Korea. The wing is also responsible for three detachments, and 13 operating locations and small terminals.