2018-05-03 / Life in Leelanau

Northport grad rises in U.S. Air Force

GARY AND Lt. Colonel Jeremy Leighton, who recently received a promotion. GARY AND Lt. Colonel Jeremy Leighton, who recently received a promotion. “He’s wanted to fly since he was a little one.”

So recalled Gary Leighton about his son Jeremy, who has assumed command of Detachment One of the 375th Operations Group of the Air Force.

Lt. Colonel Leighton was handed the reins of the group during a “change of command” ceremony held April 6 at Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

Leighton, who will lead an elite group of 24 officers and enlisted personnel flying CL-60 and BE-30 flight inspection aircraft, already has a long list of accomplishments to his name.

Leighton received his commission in 1999 from West Virginia University. He previously served as director of operations for the KC-135 formal training unit, where he was responsible for more than 100 instructor pilots and boom operators. As a command pilot and combat veteran, he has logged more than 2,800 flying hours that include 370 combat and combat support hours.

Even while growing up in Leelanau County, Leighton knew his calling, his father said.

“He had his pilot’s license while he was in high school, flying on that grass flight strip that use to be by Meijers,” Gary Leighton said.

Jeremy and his wife, Lauren, have two children: Alexandria, 5; and William, 2.

Jeremy is the son of Rhonda Leighton of Traverse City and Gary Leighton of Northport. His father recently retired after spending 20 years as a paramedic for the Suttons Bay-Bingham Fire and Rescue. He continues to work as a paramedic for Leelanau Township Emergency Services, for which he has been a member for 35 years.

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