Westover commander to hand over leadership Sunday

The incoming commander will take command Sunday.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Westover Air Reserve Base is bidding farewell to the current commander of the 439th Airlift Wing.

Brigadier General Al Lupenski will relinquish command of the Patriot Wing Sunday, exactly a year and a half after becoming the commander.

His recent promotion to from colonel to brigadier general has come with a new job title — He’ll be working at the Pentagon as director of programs and requirements for the Air Force Reserve.

Brig. Gen. Lupenski is also a pilot. He’s flown a variety of aircraft including helicopters.  At Westover, though, he’s flown the U.S. military’s largest aircraft, the C-5. On Thursday the general took part in his “fini-flight” which is a tradition in the Air Force and for commanders at Westover. It could be his last time flying the massive cargo aircraft.

In the last year, Brig. Gen. Lupenski inherited the aftermath of a reduction of C-5s and personnel on base. But in that time, the base has also won several prestigious awards under his command.

General Lupenski told 22News he never thought he’d make it to this rank, but then again, he’s had many surprises in his 33 years serving the country.

“I’ve been involved in a couple motion pictures,” General Lupenski said. “Armageddon when I was down at Patrick and I was the technical advisor for the Air Force on the Perfect Storm, so that was one of the, kind of a highlight of my career. A lot of fun.”

General Lupenski said his promotion is a combination of his own hard work and opportunities and support from the Patriot Wing and western Massachusetts.

He hopes that same support will be given to his successor, Colonel Jay D. Jensen.

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