Vance AFB will see command change in February

Thursday, December 30th 2004, 6:24 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) A colonel who attended flight training at Vance as an undergraduate will take over the base in February.

Col. Bryan J. Benson will take over from Col. Michael Callan as commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing. The new commander is familiar with Enid, since he went through undergraduate pilot training and earned his wings at Vance in 1984.

``It can't ever hurt to have a Vance guy come back,'' said Mike Cooper, a member of the Vance Development Authority and co-chairman of the governor's Base Closure Task Force. ``We are excited about that.''

Benson returns to Enid from Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England, where he currently is the operations group commander of the 100th Air Refueling Wing.

Benson is a command pilot with more than 3,400 flying hours in the T-37, T-38, C-141B and KC-135R/T aircraft. He served in Operation Desert Storm, as well as flying missions over Bosnia and enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. He graduated from the Parks College of St. Louis University with a bachelor's degree in aeronautics.

Callan, who took over command of the 71st FTW from Col. A.J. Stewart in August 2003, is going to the Pentagon, where he will serve as assistant deputy director for special operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.