Lt. Col. Brian Cooper Takes Command of 177th Maintenance Group Published July 1, 2022 By Senior Airman Hunter Hires 177th Fighter Wing ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- The event symbolized the passing of the torch from U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Leonard, 177th Maintenance Group commander since August of 2019, to the new commander of the 177th Maintenance Group, Lt. Col. Brian Cooper, who served as the commander of the 177 Maintenance Squadron since August of 2020. During the ceremony, the appreciation for both the outgoing and the incoming commander was expressed by Col. Derek Routt, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing. “The 177th Maintenance Group is the absolute backbone of this entire Wing. It is the largest, most diverse, functional group. Its mission is to sustain and generate combat power,” stated Routt. “Today we pass the command of this organization from Joe Leonard to Brian Cooper,” Routt concluded. The event marks the end of a maintenance era for Leonard, who initially joined as an enlisted avionics technician with the 177th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron in July of 1997, achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with the 177th Maintenance Squadron, and rose to the rank of Colonel. Leonard will continue his career as the vice-commander of the 108th Air Wing, out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Leonard addressed the group of maintainers for the final time as their commander. “Today’s a little unique, because most of you know, after 25 years with the 177th Fighter Wing, I’m not retiring. I’m PCSing to the 108th Wing to start the next chapter of my career,” stated Leonard. “Over the past 25 years, we have witnessed some significant changes to our Wing. Together we have traveled the globe, deployed in and out of harm’s way, conquered every and any unit inspection, activated on a moment's notice and flexed to meet the Air Force’s or state’s needs,” concluded Leonard. Cooper, who commissioned with the USAF in May of 2003 and joined the 177th FW in November of 2013, had previously served as the 177th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander and 177th Maintenance Squadron commander, before taking command of the 177th Maintenance Group. During his first address as the maintenance group commander, Cooper thanked Leonard and spoke to the Airmen of the 177th Maintenance Group. “Col. Leonard, I have looked up to you as a mentor and friend for a long time, and I am truly humbled to take command of this group. You have absolutely built one of the greatest maintenance teams in history and paved the way. We will make sure we keep it going,” stated Cooper. “To the men and women of the Maintenance Group, thank you. Thank you for generating the mission day in and day out, in the rain, the snow, the blistering heat. Maintenance is one of the hardest and sometimes most thankless jobs on the planet. My promise to you is that you have my dedication and support 177 percent,” concluded Cooper.