Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Col. Sarah E. Zabel says a few words of thanks during the change-of-command ceremony at Hill Air Force Base on Friday. Col. Kathryn L. Kolbe assumed command of the 75th Air Base Wing from Zabel.
Pennsylvania native takes command of Utah’s Hill Air Force Base
Air Force » Col. Kathryn Kolbe takes command of base.
First Published Jan 11 2013 11:46 am • Last Updated Jan 11 2013 11:43 pm

Hill Air Force Base • The new commander of Hill Air Force Base, Col. Kathryn Kolbe, will have to make tough decisions in turbulent times, her commanding officer said Friday at a change-of-command ceremony.

Kolbe replaced Col. Zarah Zabel, commander of the base’s 75th Fighter Wing since July 2012.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

About 3,000 of the base’s 24,000 military and civilian employees fall under the wing, but its commander is considered the base commander. The wing provides installation support for Ogden Air Logistics Complex, two fighter wings and 61 other associate units. It also sends out airmen with Air and Space Expeditionary Forces and supports operations of the 1,500-square-mile Utah Test and Training Range.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, officiated at the ceremony, in which he received the 75th’s flag from Zabel and passed it to Kolbe. Zabel was saluted by airmen of the 75th for the last time and Kolbe for the first.

Zabel’s tenure was underscored by change and budget challenges, and Kolbe’s will be the same, Litchfield said.

Zabel, in line to become a brigadier general, will go to special training and is considered an assistant to Litchfield until her next assignment.

The former commander passed out compliments to various groups, praising her fellow commanders for working so well together as a coalition and the airmen and civilians of the 75th as people who make her proud. Civic support, she said, is amazing. "I’ve never seen a community that goes farther to make us welcome."

Kolbe has been at Hill for two and a half years, mostly as deputy commander of the wing she now commands. In recent months, she was an assistant to Litchfield, though based at Hill.

A native of Pennsylvania, she has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and two master’s degrees in management. She deployed twice to Iraq during the recent war.

"We are faced with unprecedented resourcing challenges," Kolbe said, referring to looming federal budget cuts that could change all corners of the military. "We will have to recognize opportunities, improve processes, maximize our available resources and now, more than ever, take care of our Air Force family."

story continues below
story continues below

The 75th Air Base Wing, she said, is "behind the scenes with little fanfare," providing medical, engineering, communications, security, logistics airfield operations and other roles year-round and around the clock. "You," she told those now in her command, "keep Team Hill firing on all cylinders."

Kolbe’s husband, Col. Rick LeBlanc, commander of the 388th Range Squadron that runs the Utah Test and Training Range, and their 11-month-old daughter, Kate, sat in the front row at Friday’s ceremony.

Utah’s two U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, as well as Congressman Rob Bishop were among the dignitaries and community leaders who traveled snowy roads to attend the morning ceremony.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.