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Col. Lenny Richoux aims to forge strong ties with the bay area.

With a flourish of colors, music and smart salutes, Air Force Col. Lenny J. Richoux took the helm as the new commander of MacDill Air Force Base's 6th Air Mobility Wing in a ceremony Friday morning.

Richoux, 43, a native of New Orleans who most recently served as vice commander of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa, takes over from Col. Lawrence M. Martin.

Martin, who served as the air mobility wing commander for just under two years, has been assigned to a staff position in U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

Richoux (pronounced RE-shoe) takes over command at one of the nation's key military installations. MacDill is home to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, which both oversee fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While those combatant commands are led by their own four-star generals, Richoux's command provides some key support, including tending the C-37A jets used to ferry commanders between MacDill and the Middle East.

Richoux said he was excited by the job and wanted to work to forge tighter ties between the base and the Tampa Bay community.

"You will get our all here at MacDill as we take on the crucible of command," Richoux told several hundred Air Force personnel and dignitaries during a change of command ceremony.

As MacDill commander, Richoux is responsible for more than $2.8 billion in base property and an annual budget of $249 million. The Air Force says MacDill has a $5 billion annual economic impact on the bay area economy.

Richoux is a graduate of the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts and is a pilot who has flown 3,100 hours as an instructor pilot on the KC-135 Stratotanker mid-air refueler and the C-17, a large military transport.

MacDill is home to 16 of the Stratotankers.

Richoux said he and his wife, Michele, are looking forward to getting to know the Tampa Bay area with their three children, ages 12, 8 and 5.

Upon learning their father was being transferred to Florida, Michele Richoux told reporters, "There was cheering."

William R. Levesque can be reached at or (813) 226-3432.

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