An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Baker takes command of 43d OSS 'Panthers'

  • Published
  • By Marc Barnes
  • 43d Air Mobility Operations Group
POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. — Lt. Col. Judd Baker, a North Carolina native, took command of the 43d Operations Support Squadron from Lt. Col. Christopher Kiser during a change-of-command ceremony here June 9. 

Airmen of the 43d OSS joined leaders of the 43d Air Mobility Operations Group and other special guests to welcome Baker — who most recently served as the 43d AMOG chief of safety — to the Panther family. 

Col. Kelly Holbert, 43d AMOG commander, presided over the afternoon ceremony, which was held in Passenger Shed 1 adjacent to Green Ramp here. He thanked Kiser and his family for their leadership of the squadron for the last two years, and congratulated Baker and his family on their new role in the group.  

“Lt. Col. Baker, we’re excited to have you move into this new key position. We thank you for what you’ve done as our chief of safety, and we’re looking forward to even bigger and better things now,” the colonel said. “I’m absolutely confident that the (43d Operations Support Squadron) Panthers are going to remain in great hands.”

Holbert went on to explain the trust which is placed in Baker as a squadron commander, and the vital role he and the 43d OSS have in the group as it supports the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, the Global Response Force, special operations and other missions here at Fort Bragg.     

“In my opinion, there’s nothing more important to the mission and to our Airmen than the leadership ability of our squadron commanders,” Holbert said. “Airmen of the 43d OSS, I’m proud to say that you’re gaining a new commander who has all the skills to continue down the successful path that has been forged by (Lt. Col. Kiser and his wife). Judd is a recognized mobility expert who understands the (Mobility Air Forces) mission, who cares about Airmen, and who is ready now to lead this incredibly diverse squadron.”

Baker, who entered the Air Force in 2001 through Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a C-17A Globemaster III senior pilot with more than 900 combat flight hours in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. He has also served as a C-17 training evaluator and instructor pilot, and supported humanitarian and disaster relief operations in Lebanon, Haiti and Japan. 

Before taking on the role as the safety chief in the 43d AMOG here in 2016, Baker was the executive assistant to the director for operations at U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

After accepting the 43d OSS unit guidon and officially becoming the unit’s commander, Baker addressed the Airmen of his new unit. 

“Panthers, I’m truly thrilled to be a part of your team …” Baker said. “When I was a young C-17 pilot learning airdrop while (on temporary duty assignments) here from Charleston, I loved it. As often as I could, I volunteered to fly more training flights here, or if I couldn’t fly, I’d drive up here as a mission planner … I loved it, and couldn’t get enough. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would one day command the squadron that is directly responsible for putting the air in airborne.”

He also expressed appreciation to his wife and daughters along with other visiting relatives, and praised Kiser and his family for their success in leading the Panther family for the last two years, and wished them well as they leave Pope for an assignment at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.  

“Lt. Col. Kiser has led the Panthers through a period of significant transition for Pope and the 43d, and we’re probably not done yet,” Baker said. “But no matter what we look like or how we’re organized, we do have a clear mission, one that we know is of great importance to our nation. A mission that every day keeps Americans safe.”