Thunderbirds commander relieved of duty

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Lt. Col. Jason Heard, commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. The Thunderbirds, has been relieved of command upon the completion of the 2017 season.

Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, commander of the 57th Wing commander at Nellis aIr Force Base, Nev., relieved Heard effective Nov. 20.

While Heard led the team through a highly successful show season, Leavitt lost confidence in his leadership and risk management style.

Leavitt determined that new leadership was necessary to ensure the highest levels of pride, precision and professionalism within the team.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one that is ultimately in the best interests of the Thunderbird team. I am personally grateful for Jason’s dedication to the 2017 season,” Leavitt said.

Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbird’s 2016-2017 Operations Officer, has temporarily assumed responsibility of the team until a new commander is selected.

The Thunderbirds are preparing for the 2018 season, training their new pilots, and look forward to inspiring crowds around the country.