SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Col. Terry Koester just can’t seem to stay away from Sheppard AFB.
The Marine-turned career maintenance officer and educator is the perfect fit to lead the 982nd Training Group, the Air Force’s largest and most unique training organization. In fact, it’s his third assignment to Sheppard AFB, including his training in the aircraft maintenance and munitions officer course in 1996 and a four year stint as director of operations twice and commander of the 362nd Training Squadron.
Koester took command of the 982nd TRG during a ceremony July 23, 2020, at Sheppard AFB. Col. Anthony Puente, who will now serve as the 82nd Training Wing’s vice commander here, relinquished command.
Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, 82nd TRW commander, officiated the ceremony.
“It is truly, truly great to be back here at Sheppard for the third time, and I recognize my passion for training and education and embrace the 82nd Training Wing mission … and it does not come as a surprise that my family and I are welcomed back to the community, the 82nd Training Wing and the 982nd Training Group with professionalism and hospitality. We could not have asked for better.”
Bell said Koester was the perfect person to lead the 982nd TRG because of his significant experience in the Air Force’s maintenance world, and because of his dedication to technical training and educating the next generation of Air Force maintainers.
“He comes to us with a deep understanding of the operational flight line and the training enterprise, making him perfectly qualified to lead the 982nd Training Group,” he said. “Terry, you have the privilege of leading one of the most unique and important training units in all of AETC whose roots stretch back to World War II.”
Bell thanked Puente for his dedication to improving technical training that happens at more than four dozen locations on three continents around the world. He singled out the development of Right Time Training, a concept that created new ways for the technical training apparatus to build on and add to the skills of aircraft maintainers at the right time to make them productive on the flightline.
Another success story was formalizing missile maintenance training at the service’s three missile bases – Minot AFB, North Dakota; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.
On top of that, Bell said Puente had to continue leading the advancement of technical training from afar despite a world-wide pandemic.
“Tony, you and your team have done an incredible job leading this very complex organization during a turbulent and difficult time,” he said. “As each of your detachments have faced a different set of circumstances, orders and risks during this pandemic, they have followed the guidelines of various installations and you have had to corral them and move them in the right direction, and you have managed it extremely well, balancing the needs to protect our people and continue our training mission.”
Puente thanked the staff of the 982nd TRG here locally and at detachments around the globe for their dedication to providing world-class training at the group’s many geographically separated units. He also told Koester that he, in a way, is jealous of the opportunities he will have moving forward with the group.
The colonel encouraged those he has led as well as his replacement to continue with the 982nd TRG’s mantra, which is to be responsive, flexible and timely. Following that simple mantra, he said, brings credibility to the field training and mobile training missions.