May 19, 2010 10:00 PM by Andy Koen, Bea Karnes, News First 5
The top military and civilian commanders of the United States and Canada are in Colorado Springs to oversee the transfer of power at NORAD and US Northern Command.
Gen. Victor E. Renuart relinquished command to his successor Admiral James A. Winnefield, Jr. during a ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally took part in the change of command ceremony, passing the flag of US Northern Command from Gen. Renuart to Adm. Winnefield.
The ceremony also marked the retirement of Gen. Renuart from the military following 39 years of service.
He held back emotions in thanking his wife Jill for sticking with him through it all.
"Suffice it to say that we've seen a lot of change over our time, through it all she's been there, I love you."
Renuart was fighter pilot in the Air Force, flying A-10 Warthogs during the Gulf War. He later served as Director of Operations for US Central Command during the Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Prior to taking command here, Renuart was a senior assistant to Secretary Gates. His former boss had some advice for him in the days ahead.
"I fervently hope that you are more successful at retirement than I have been," Gates said.
Admiral Winnefeld is a former Navy fighter pilot who also taught as a Top Gun instructor. He led the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in support of Operation Enduring Freedom immediately after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Winnefield told the audience that he and his wife Mary are excited to be in Colorado Springs and appreciated the warm welcome by community leaders.
"I can think of no greater responsibility or honor than protecting our people and our way of life and I take this duty as a sacred trust," Winnefeld said of taking over the command.
General Renuart's wife Jill was also recognized on stage for her efforts in supporting military families and wounded warriors in the community.