Col. Thomas P. Sherman made two firsts Tuesday: He made his first trip to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, and he became the installation commander of the largest Air Force base by population.
Sounding at times like an evangelist and brimming with enthusiasm, Sherman told a crowd of about 500 at a change of command ceremony he had found his purpose for the next two years.
“This is my first time in the Air Force museum and to get a chance to stand here and be overwhelmed by the emotion and history that is around us just only amplifies that level of spirit and feeling that is coursing through our veins at this moment,” he said.
The 44-year-old California native and Air Force Academy graduate who served in Afghanistan and Iraq replaces Col. Bradley McDonald, who retired after a 24-year career in uniform and will return to his native Idaho. Sherman, a six-time commander who has an extensive background in base security forces around the world, was a detachment commander at the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., before taking on his new job.
Lt. Gen. Robert D. McMurry, who presided over the ceremony, said the Air Force had picked among “the cream of the crop” for the most fiercely competitive job to be chosen to lead as a wing commander.
“This is a job that takes all you got,” the three-star general said, noting the scale of the super base. “It’s a test. You’re either going to be a hard-nosed tough guy, supportive consoler or a season diplomat.”
McMurry awarded the Legion of Merit to the retiring McDonald who lauded the airmen under his command and ticked off a list of accomplishments in his farewell
“This ain’t about me,” he said. “It’s about those airmen over in that formation today.”
Wright-Patterson commanders have faced in recent years government shutdowns, civil service furloughs and budget cuts, to base security and handling groundwater contamination issues both on and off base.
Increasingly, a new concern is the threat of cyber attacks targeting infrastructure outside the fence line, such as water and utilities, that military bases depend on, said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs.
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