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Thunderbirds names new leader

Photo: The Thunderbirds fly over New York City. USAF/TSgt Christopher Boitz


Air Combat Command has named Lt Col Kevin Walsh as the new commander of the USAF Air Demonstration Team, the Thunderbirds. Walsh took over as acting commander of the team in November after Lt Col Jason Heard was dramatically relieved of command.

Heard was removed from his position by 57th Wing commander Brig Gen Jeannie Leavitt, as the team’s season closed. Brig Gen Leavitt said she removed Heard due to ‘his leadership and risk management style,’ according to a media release, adding that new leadership was necessary to ‘ensure the highest level of pride, precision and professionalism within the team.’ Leavitt said: ‘This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbird team. I am personally grateful for Jason’s dedication to the 2017 season.’

Walsh comes-in to lead the team from the No 7 position, where he also acted as the team’s operations officer. Walsh is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and the F-16 Weapons School (WPS).

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Lt Col Kevin Walsh, the new Thunderbirds commander. USAF

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