JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD --
Col. Travis T. Boltjes became the new commander of the Western Air Defense Sector during a virtual change of command ceremony Jan. 4, 2023, in the WADS conference room located on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
Lt. Gen Kirk S. Pierce, Commander of the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Region (CONR)-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern and Air Forces Space), was the presiding officer for the ceremony. Pierce participated from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., via video teleconference.
Boltjes replaces Col. Scott Humphrey, who will begin his next assignment at the National Guard Bureau working with the State Partnership Program. Humphrey was recently named as a Brigadier General select.
During Pierce’s opening remarks, he explained that Boltjes is a leader that not only cares about the mission, but he truly cares more about the people and he will not tell someone to do something that he is not willing to do himself. “I fully have trust and confidence in his ability...he is the epitome of service before self.” Pierce emphasized that Boltjes not only cares about the individual’s wellbeing but also their professional development, training and continued education.
At the end of the ceremony, Boltjes took the opportunity to talk to the men and women of the WADS team. He emphasized the outstanding success of executing the WADS no fail mission during the global pandemic. “There are a lot of Airmen doing amazing missions for the Air Force, America, and all over the world, but I think homeland defense is a rare honor.”
Boltjes received his commission in 2002 from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. with a Bachelor of Science degree in Logistics and Intermodal Transportation. He went on to complete undergraduate pilot training at Columbus AFB, Miss., in 2004. He is a senior pilot with more than 1,400 flight hours in the F-16C/CM/D.
Boltjes has served in various command, operational, and staff assignments, including serving as the Assistant Executive Officer to the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau. He has deployed four times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has manned alert postured aircraft in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Prior to being assigned to WADS, he was the Chief of Staff at CONR-1AF (AFNORTH and AFSPACE).
The WADS is staff by active-duty Washington Air National Guardsmen, Royal Canadian Air Force, U.S. Navy liaison officers, and Federal civilians. The unit supports the NORAD integrated warning and attack assessment missions and the USNORTHCOM homeland defense mission. WADS is responsible for air sovereignty and counter-air operations over the Western United States and directs a variety of assets to defend 2.2 million square miles of land and sea west of the Mississippi River.