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A Q&A with Air Force Col. Richard McComb, the former commander of Joint Base Charleston. In Local

Command of Joint Base Charleston was transferred to a new leader, Air Force Col. Jeffrey “Pep” DeVore, during a ceremony Thursday at the air base in North Charleston.

DeVore, previously commander of the 386th Expeditionary Operations Group, Southwest Asia, takes command as Col. Richard McComb leaves for a position at the Pentagon in Washington.

Inside a large hangar at the base, members of the 10 squadrons assigned there stood for a final inspection by McComb in their blue dress uniforms while others in fatigues and green flight suits watched from the audience.

Brig. Gen. Randall “Arlo” Guthrie came down from New Jersey to oversee the change of command, and praised the work done by the 2,600 service members and civilian workers, who provide support for operations worldwide.

Joint Base Charleston is the name created in 2010 when the Air Force Base and Naval Weapons Station commands were combined. As the new commander of the 628th Air Base Wing, Devore is in charge of Joint Base Charleston.

McComb, before he handed over the command, was presented by Guthrie with the Legion of Merit, a decoration that’s awarded for “exceptionally meritorious conduct.”

Guthrie said McComb led Joint Base Charleston to capitalize on efficiencies of the recently combined command, oversaw the rebuilding of a runway at the base that is shared by Charleston International Airport. He also oversaw new housing, led efforts to establish an on-base charter school, and saw a large reduction in drunken-driving incidents.

“Rest assured, he is leaving the command having completed another job, extremely well done,” Guthrie said.

He assured the assembled service members that their new commander was also of high caliber, having served in “tough commands” in 11 locations worldwide during the past 20 years.

“He’s also a combat warrior, fresh off his second deployment in Southeast Asia,” Guthrie said of DeVore. “His qualifications to command Joint Base Charleston are impeccable, and we are happy to have him.”

DeVore just finished a 14-month stint in Kuwait, and said he was pleased to be coming to Charleston, and to have an opportunity to reunite with his wife, Michele, and their children, Connor and Kira.

“It’s about 40 degrees cooler here,” he told reporters.

DeVore said the ceremony, attended by his family members from Florida and Washington state, was something he will never forget.

With military operations ongoing and the Department of Defense bracing for another round of congressionally mandated budget cuts, DeVore told those at the change of command ceremony that “very hard” challenges await.

“If they were easy, anybody could do it,” he said. “It takes people with compassion, professionalism and passion.”

DeVore said that while the “sequestration” budget cuts will be challenging, their impact won’t be known until more decisions are made in Washington.

This will be DeVore’s first time living in the Charleston region, and he said that he and his family are looking forward to exploring and enjoying the area.

“We can’t wait to get downtown and enjoy some of the culture,” he said.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.