New commander installed at Barnes Air National Guard Base - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New commander installed at Barnes Air National Guard Base

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WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Barnes Air National Guard Base has a new commander.

In a change-of-command ceremony Saturday afternoon, Col. James Keefe officially took over the 104th Fighter Wing.

He replaced Brig. Gen. Robert Brooks, who was recently promoted to the Joint Force Headquarters staff.

Raised in Northampton, Keefe is no stranger to Western Mass or to the military.

He has two brothers currently serving, and they are following the path of their father and uncle.

"We grew up out here," said Keefe. "My family has been in this unit since 1956. There has been a Keefe serving in the Massachusetts National Guard - actually my dad's father was Yankee division member back in World War Two - so a long history of family service to the Massachusetts National Guard."

Keefe has spent the past five years as vice wing commander.

He now takes over in an uncertain time, due to the sequester that went into an effect on Friday.

He told CBS 3 that whatever the case may be, he wants his squadron to stay focused.

"We do not want to have our members worried about pay when they are supposed to be taking care of aircraft," said Keefe.  "As far as leadership goes, our job is to make sure that the focus is where the mission is."

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