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JBER gets its first female commander

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, left, transfers command of the 673d Air Base Wing to Col. Patricia Csànk during a change of command ceremony Friday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. At right is Col. George Dietrich, the former 673d commander, who is going to Fort Bragg to work as the director of logistics, Special Operations Command. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is a huge military installation next door to Anchorage, encompassing around 80,000 acres and over $10 billion in infrastructure. And for the first time ever, it has a female commander.

In a short ceremony held in a hangar with the doors open to the runway where F-22s were taking off, Col. Patricia Csànk took over command of the 673d Air Base Wing from Col. George Dietrich.

Col. Csànk was previously stationed at JBER, where she commanded the 673d and 773d Logistics Readiness Squadrons. "I'm really thrilled to be back in Alaska," she said. "In many ways, it's really like coming home. My family really became a family here in Alaska. We adopted our son Aiden, and he came home here to the Anchorage area."

The 673d Air Base Wing is responsible for operational management on JBER, supporting tenant units from the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. As the 673d commander, Col. Csànk is like the "mayor" of JBER, according to public affairs specialist Keisha Lafayette.

JBER employs around 41,800 people with approximately 15,000 of those living on the installation, including military dependents.

Members of the 673d Air Base Wing stand at attention during a change of command ceremony Friday at JBER. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

"It's a great privilege, and it's humbling," she said when asked about being the first female base commander. "There are many fantastic women who went before me who cleared this path so that I could get an opportunity like this."

"We're excited (to be living in Alaska again)," she said. "We've got our bucket list already of the things we want to do over the next few years. We just love it here."

Col. Patricia Csànk speaks after assuming command of the 673d Air Base Wing Friday at JBER. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

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