Former Cannon commander promoted

Former Cannon Air Force Base commander Robert “Rowdy” Yates was promoted to the rank of brigadier general Wednesday at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. (File photo)

CNJ staff

Former Cannon Air Force Base commander Robert “Rowdy” Yates was promoted to the rank of brigadier general Wednesday at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

According to Air Combat Command officials, Yates will be taking a post as commander of the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano, Italy.

Area community members remember his influence on Cannon and Clovis.

“He did a lot of great things while he was here at Cannon,” said Chad Lydick, a member of the Committee of Fifty, a volunteer group that works to promote and improve the air base. “He really worked on this (New Mexico) Training Range Initiative. For the two years he was here he was very instrumental in getting that to the point where we are right now.”

Pending approval by the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration in the fall, the initiative would greatly enhance fighter training out of Cannon.

Cannon was placed on the Base Realignment and Closure list May 13, and since that time New Mexico’s congressional delegates have questioned why the training range initiative was not considered by the Pentagon in its selection process.

Besides pushing for the air space expansion, Yates also became a community member, Lydick said.

“Rowdy was quite a sportsman, quite a father. He had a daughter graduate from Clovis High School while he was here,” he said.

Lydick said having a former base commander of Cannon go on to make brigadier general bodes well for the air base.

“We like to have that type of thing happen at our air base,” he said.

According to his official Air Force bio, Yates graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1981 and has held 18 assignments during his career. He has flown the A-10, A-7, AT-38, F-117, as well as several types of F-16s.