TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (WMBB) — The commanding officer of the First Air Force is one of the most important jobs not only at Tyndall Air Force Base, but the country, and now there’s a new person in that position.

It takes leadership and dedication to defend the skies for the United States Continental North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, but Lieutenant General Steven S. Nordhaus is prepared to take command and oversee the First Air Force’s distinct missions,

Lieutenant General Kirk Pierce retired and relinquished command to General Nordhaus Friday during a change of command ceremony.

General Pierce is wrapping up a 35 year career.

“Lieutenant General Pierce is an amazing leader and individual. I’ve known him for a long time, and I’ve witnessed how awesome he is,” Lieutenant General Nordhaus said. “So he’s left an incredible team back here. We’ve had the last couple of days to work together, and for me to see just how well-oiled this machine is and the elite professionals I’m going to work with day to day, so I’m just super excited to take up where he left off and continue his great tradition.

Nordhaus graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989, then flew F-16s for 23 years.

In 2002, he transitioned to the Air National Guard, spending time in leadership roles in Toledo, the Pentagon, and NORAD NORTHCOM in Colorado Springs.

“And back into director of ops for the National Guard bureau, so all those roles I think have really provided some good insight into this mission set,” Lieutenant General Nordhaus said.

Lieutenant General Nordhaus said those experiences have equipped him for this role.

“We’ll continue the day-to-day mission of detect, deter and defend America from any air threats and to make sure that our nation is safe,” Lieutenant General Nordhaus said.

Commander of the United States Space Command General James Dickinson praised outgoing commander, General Pierce.

“He built the command into a cohesive team of warfighters and at the core of any great team is a culture of excellence and professionalism, to lay the foundation by setting and maintaining high standards for himself and the officers of the command,” General Dickinson said.

Lieutenant General Pierce gave his successor his blessing.

“You’re going to be great, you got a ticket to new heights, you and Shannon are rock stars. I know how great you’re going to be here. I just gotta get out of the way. You’re going to make a difference every day,” General Pierce said.

Lieutenant General Nordhaus will oversee several distinct missions, including air defense and air sovereignty operations in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.