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COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. (WCBI) — They come and go every two years but they say leaving is never easy. Columbus Air Force Base Commander Colonel Jim Sears said goodbye today to many of base’s biggest business, government and community supporters. In comments to the Base Community Council, Sears looked back on two years that saw the base’s main runway rebuilt, changed techniques to maintain training levels with less money and a total of $50 million in construction. And 829 new pilots have graduated under his command, adding to the 21,000 the base has trained in its 73 year history. But it’s the people he’ll miss the most.

Colonel Sears said, “Any command is bittersweet but leaving Columbus Air Force Base is really going to be a moment I’m not looking forward to with the tremendous friends we’ve built here and the relationships and being able to take care of the premier flying training wing in our Air Force and the community around it has been a great thing.”

He’ll be replaced in Columbus by Colonel John Nichols, who is deployed overseas but heads the 18th Operations Group at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. The group flies the B-1 bomber. Nichols and his wife Michelle have a 16-year-old son.

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