‘Privilege of a lifetime,’ 354th Fighter Wing Commander says goodbye to time in Alaska
After finishing up his two years at Eielson Air Force Base, 354th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Benjamin Bishop moves on to his next assignment.
He came to Eielson to help with the F-35 bed down. "It is why I was selected to come to Eielson at this time -- to make sure the F-35 program is able to get up and running and we start training sorties in the skies of Alaska. And I'm happy to report that mission accomplished,” said Bishop.
There are now three F-35s at Eielson, training and flying in the skies of Interior Alaska.
"It's been the privilege of a lifetime, to serve as the commander of the 354th Fighter Wing, but also to be a member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough community. It's a special place in my heart, here in the golden heart of Alaska -- not only for myself, but really the entire team here at Eielson and my own personal family," said Bishop.
Bishop says one of his favorite memories is when he got to march in the Golden Days parade with his family. “That was my first time being in the local community and seeing the tremendous support, and also the sense of unity that we have here in Interior Alaska... and it really struck me to be in my official capacity as the wing commander with my family in the community. I’ve always taken that with me in this job and that’s one of the things that makes it difficult for me to leave, because of the people and the relationships that we’ve formed here, ” said Bishop.
He says he will take with him a love for Alaska. "My children have really grown up here, and they will forever be Alaskans. I'm going to take the knowledge that the 354th Fighter Wing is going to continue to flourish and continue to grow, since we do have 51 more F-35s inbound, and I'll be looking forward to coming back and seeing the community and base growing together," said Bishop.
Bishop is heading to his next assignment at the Pentagon serving on the Joint Staff. Bishop's replacement is deployed to Afghanistan and will be arriving in August. In the meantime, Vice Wing Commander Colonel Shawn Anger will assume command.