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Col. Derek Salmi assumes command at FAFB


There is a new commander in town at Fairchild Air Force Base.

On June 15, Col. Derek Salmi assumed command Fairchild during a ceremony in front of local of area leaders and other attendees.

Salmi comes from the Royal Air Force Base in Mildenhall, United Kingdom, where he was the commander of the 100th Operations Group.

The group was responsible for planning, scheduling and execution of all U.S. air forces in Europe air refueling operations. They were leaders in mission readiness, mobilization, employment, training and standardization of 15 KC-135R Stratotanker aircrafts. They were also in charge of 245 permanently assigned aircrew and support personnel.

“This is an incredible day for Fairchild Air Force Base,” Brig. Gen. Darren James said in introducing Salmi. “The burden of leadership is a heavy one and I have no doubt you (Salmi) will be successful.”

It was an extra meaningful ceremony for the two as James had promoted Salmi to major in 2007 at Dover AFB in Delaware.

“He will be a phenomenal leader,” James said. “You create your own path going forward and we are very proud and very excited to see what they do.”

Salmi graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1998 and received his commission. He is a command pilot, logging more than 2,800 hours in the C-5A/B/M Galaxy, KC-135R/T Stratotanker, T-1A Jayhawk and T-37B Tweet.

The new commander has a long history of education to bring to the position. He started with a bachelor in science in political science at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. In 2005, he received a master of arts in organizational management at George Washington University in Washington D.C.

Five years later, he earned an advanced international affairs certificate at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M. In 2011, he received a master of philosophy in military strategy at the Air University in Maxwell AFB in Alabama.

Finally topping it off, he was a National Defense Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

“I am honored and humbled to be your commander,” Salmi said to the crowd. “I feel very fortunate to be serving you as your commander. I am honored to work with all of you and I sincerely thank all of you for this. My family and I look forward to serving your community.”

Prior to Fairchild, Salim had 10 assignments during his career. He started off at Laughlin AFB in Texas and had several other moves including places like Robins AFB in Georgia, Dover AFB in Delaware, Al Udeid AB in Qatar and was part of the Air Force Intern Program at Air Force headquarters in Washington D.C.

Grace Pohl can be reached at


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