Vermont Air National Guard chooses new wing commander

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A veteran fighter pilot will become the next commander of the Vermont Air National Guard's 158th Fighter Wing, the guard announced Monday.

The selection of Col. David Shevchik comes after the Vermont air guard has taken delivery of the first five of what will be 20 F-35 fighter jets.

Shevchik, who is qualified to fly the F-35, will succeed Col. David Smith, who is retiring after 31 years of service to the Vermont Air National Guard.

The Vermont air guard is the first air guard unit in the country to receive the next-generation fighters. The Air Force describes the F-35 as its fifth-generation fighter, combining stealth technology with speed and agility.

Shevchik, most recently the commander of the 158th Operations Group, is a Vermont native and graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. He has been with the Vermont guard since 2007.

“We continue to undergo our historic transformation to a mission ready F-35 Fighter Wing, the first in the Air National Guard," Shevchik said in a statement distributed by the guard. “I'm proud of the team and excited for our future.”