A civilian perspective on a change of command

  • Published
  • By Kayla Prather
  • 932nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As a summer intern and absolute novice to military life, I had the honor of attending the recent Assumption of Command for Col. J. Scot Heathman, and wanted to share how interesting and inspiring it was for me.

After welcoming remarks, the soon to be wing commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing walked in with his family as part of the official party. I thought it was nice for them to have a moment to be recognized in that way as a group.

After the National Anthem and invocation, Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett, 18 the Air Force commander, described the impact that the colonel and his family have had throughout their years in the Air Force.

After the formal portion of assuming command, Heathman shared how he never thought he would be on the stage with the general for something like this, but that he was grateful for this opportunity. His true appreciation and gratitude was genuine. 

Hearing the Air Force Song—with the entire audience singing along to it—in unison—was amazing. It really showed a sense of unity with a family feel of what Air Force life must be like.  I spoke with a fairly new 932nd Maintenance Group reservist, Capt. Aaron Wolfe, and asked him a few questions about what he thought.
“I’ve had the opportunity to attend many change of command ceremonies, and this was one of the best organized and executed events,” Wolfe said. “There was absolute attention to detail from the committee.”

 Because the Air Force Reserve wing and the active duty wing work together to accomplish the C-40 mission, I also asked how well that relationship works. 

“We absolutely have a strong ability to work with each other,” Wolfe said.  “In the case of even this ceremony, we were right in the midst of scheduled aircraft maintenance, so we negotiated the layout of the ceremony to allow us to have minimal impact on our scheduled maintenance, keeping our jets available for our fly-on-demand missions.”

That was the kind of unity I saw from the command ceremony. Seeing the unity and feeling of togetherness from the Air Force was wonderful to witness, and you could feel a powerful energy throughout the crowd. I’ve seen a strong attention to detail at the Illinois wing taking care of the planes so that they are always ready to go when needed: this allows reservists to play an intricate and global role in national security.

Thank you to all the men and women who serve in the military—whether it’s active duty, Guard or Reserve. Thank you for letting me be part of your day and witnessing such a patriotic ceremony. I look forward to learning more about the synergy of all of the military partners on the base during the remainder of my summer internship program here.