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Lofton returns to Sheppard, takes command of 82nd TRG

Col. John Lofton III addresses small group at change of command

Col. John Lofton III, new 82nd Training Group commander, addresses a small group of family, Sheppard leadership and Airmen during a change of command ceremony at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, July 15, 2020. A career maintenance officer, Lofton will command the group that has the sole function of producing officer and enlisted aircraft maintenance and munitions Airmen in 17 different Air Force Specialty Codes. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Megan Morrissey)

Col. John Lofton III returns salute to Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell

Col. John Lofton III returns a salute to 82nd Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell after accepting command of the 82nd Training Group during a ceremony at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, July 15, 2020. A career maintenance officer, Lofton will command the group that has the sole function of producing officer and enlisted aircraft maintenance and munitions Airmen in 17 different Air Force Specialty Codes. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Megan Morrissey)

Col. Michael Donahue II addresses audience at change of command

Col. Michael Donahue II provides some final comments as the 82nd Training Group commander before he relinquished command during a ceremony at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, July 15, 2020. Col. John Lofton III took command of the 82nd TRG, whose mission is to produce officer and enlisted aircraft maintenance and munitions Airmen in 17 different Air Force Specialty Codes.. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Megan Morrissey)

Col. Michael Donahue II returns salute to Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell

Col. Michael Donahue II returns a salute to 82nd Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell after relinquishing command of the 82nd Training Group during a ceremony at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, July 15, 2020. The 82nd TRG has the sole function of producing officer and enlisted aircraft maintenance and munitions Airmen in 17 different Air Force Specialty Codes. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Megan Morrissey)

Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell addresses audience at the 82nd Training Group change of command

Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, 82nd Training Wing commander, addresses a small audience at the 82nd Training Group change of command ceremony at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, July 15, 2020. Col. John Lofton III took command of the aircraft maintenance and munitions technical training group after Col. Michael Donahue II relinquished command. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Megan Morrissey)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Airman 1st Class John C. Lofton III left Sheppard AFB in 1991 as a power production specialist after completing his technical training.

Almost 30 years later and multiple opportunities at growth and advancement, he has returned to the foundation of him impressive career, this time as the commander of officer and enlisted aircraft, munitions and missile maintenance training for the Air Force.

Col. John C. Lofton III took command of the 82nd Training Group on July 15, 2020, during a ceremony at Sheppard. He replaced Col. Michael Donahue II, who held the position for three years.

Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, 82nd Training Wing commander, officiated the ceremony.

Lofton told members of the 82nd TRG that they are navigating unprecedented times, but the group and its five training squadrons have continued to develop means to operate in a contested environment.

“We have opportunities in front of us because our adversaries won’t stop being bad guys. Our adversaries will continue to threaten our ways of life even though we’re in a quarantine way of life,” he said. “So it falls on our shoulder as the 82nd Training Group to continue providing readiness through warfighter, mission-ready Airmen that are ready to get to their next unit and start contributing to our Air Force.”

Bell applauded Donahue for his efforts during the three-year tenure as 82nd TRG commander, a tour that was a year longer than usual. About 40,000 Airmen graduated from 100 courses during that time, he said, including a maintenance surge to address a shortfall of maintenance Airmen in the force. Under his leadership, the Air Force Logistics Officer School and Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course also saw a transformation from an archaic task-based method to a thesis-style capstone event.

The wing commander challenged Lofton to continue the progress of the 82nd TRG.

“I encourage you to proudly and boldly lead this next generation. They have earned and deserve a good leader, and you are the right person to lead.”

Donahue, whose next assignment will be at the Pentagon, said he was proud of the efforts of the men and women of the training group.

“John, you are getting the best team in the United States Air Force to work with,” he said. “You’re going to have so much fun, and I am looking so forward to the heights you bring the group in the future.”

The 82nd TRG is responsible for the technical training of officer and enlisted aircraft, munitions and missile maintenance in 17 Air Force Specialty Codes. Its squadrons include the 359th TRS, Eglin AFB, Florida; and the 361st, 362nd and 363rd TRSs at Sheppard.