Col. Randel J. Gordon assumed command of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex as the 32nd commander during a Change of Command ceremony June 16 in the Aircraft Test Support Facility at Arnold Air Force Base.
Maj. Gen. Evan Dertien, Air Force Test Center commander, presided over the ceremony which was attended by the Gordon’s guests, national, state and local elected officials or representatives, past AEDC commanders, retired Air Force personnel, Arnold Community Council members, and current members of the AEDC workforce.
Gordon comes to AEDC from Edwards Air Force Base, California, where he was the Vice Wing Commander of the 412th Test Wing. In that role, he led a wing of more than 9,000 personnel in the developmental test and evaluation of various aircraft and emerging technologies.
Gordon is a Presidential Fellow, Harvard Business School alumnus, Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Fellow and holds a doctorate from the U.S. Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.
He previously served as the F-22 Combined Test Force commander and possesses additional flight test pilot experience in more than six dozen other military and civilian aircraft.
Among his numerous awards and decorations, Gordon has received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, Air Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
After accepting the AEDC guidon to signify the assumption of his new post, Gordon took the podium. He said it is an honor to take on the mantle of leadership for AEDC and that the two words that come to mind when reflecting on the path that brought him to his new assignment and looking ahead were “gratitude” and “excitement.“
Gordon expressed his appreciation for Dertien, Col. Jeffrey Geraghty, his predecessor in command of AEDC, Geraghty’s family, members of his own family, friends and others he has served alongside during his Air Force career, many of whom were in attendance for the ceremony.
“You think that I invited you all here to honor me but, in reality, I invited you here to honor you because it’s been such a gratifying life to be serving with you,” Gordon said. “It just brings my heart a lot of cheer to be able to look out into the audience and see so many people that have had great influence on me, so thank you.”
Gordon added he wants to see AEDC at the forefront of advancing Air Force technology and serve as the pacesetter for the Air Force Test Center enterprise and the branch as a whole.
“This is just an honor,” Gordon said. “It is so exciting to be here with this team to get a chance to lead.”
As AEDC commander, Gordon leads an advanced complex of flight simulation test facilities. AEDC is one of three installations that are part of the Air Force Test Center, which is one of six subordinate commands of the Air Force Materiel Command organization.
AEDC is comprised of more than 68 aerospace test facilities which, in addition to its headquarters at Arnold AFB, includes operating locations at the Federal Research Center at White Oak near Silver Spring, Maryland; the Ames Research Center in Mountain View and Edwards AFB, California; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Holloman Air Force Base and Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The test facilities simulate flight from subsonic to hypersonic speeds at altitudes from sea level to space. All NASA manned spacecraft, every high performance aircraft and missile, as well as most space launch systems and many military satellites in use by the Department of Defense today, have been tested in AEDC facilities.
Geraghty, who had served as AEDC commander since June 2019, is set to be promoted to brigadier general and take command of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin AFB.
Air Force Test Center Commander Maj. Gen. Evan Dertien, left, hands the Arnold Engineering Development Complex guidon to Col. Randel Gordon charging him with command of AEDC during the Change of Command Ceremony June 16, 2022, in the Aircraft Test Support Facility at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee. Also pictured are Col. Jeffrey Geraghty, right, previous AEDC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Cirricione, senior enlisted leader, AEDC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jill Pickett)