After 48 months of commanding the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing, Brig. Gen. Darrin Slaten is off to a new challenge. 

"Gen. Saxe, chief, thank you for the opportunity to lead this great wing and spend some time with you and your mentorship," Slaten said. "It's been a short two years but I certainly appreciate everything you've done for us and the team here at the 176th."

Hundreds of military members from all branches and units filled Hangar 18 to observe and acknowledge the passing of the unit flag from commander to commander. Col. Anthony Stratton, a graduate from Service High School was honored as the newest commander of the 176th Wing. 

"I started my career about 31 years ago right here in this organization, over at Kulis International Guard Base" Col. Stratton said. 

Stratton's parents moved from Missoula, Montana in 1969 to Alaska taking with them Anthony as a baby, a puppy and a car towing an airstream trailer. Stratton's family lived in Barrow for a short time and that's where is younger brother was born. From Barrow, the Stratton family moved to Fairbanks and Anthony attended grade school and junior high there. It's also where he met his childhood best friend and second mom. The person that kept him in line when his parents were occupied. At the ceremony, Stratton paid tribute and thanked both of his "moms."

"I have probably called her my other mother for about 25 years," Stratton said. 

Stratton also credits Brig. Gen. Slaten for making the 176th what it is today. Stratton intends to pick up right where Slaten left off to help create and stabilize stability.

"We provide homes, meals, comfort, solace, a future for all of our family members," Stratton said. "We provide critical combat capability every single day to two combat commanders. We are airmen, our nation's sword and shield, we're Alaskans, our state's first responders, we are always ready, we are always there, we always have been and we always will be."

Stratton says the 176th Wing has 165 openings and he wants to fill them with Alaskans because Alaskans know what Alaskans want. 

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