An Afghanistan and Iraq veteran and six-time military commander will become the next installation leader of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Col. Thomas P. Sherman, 44, will take over the top leadership post at the 88th Air Base Wing in June, replacing Col. Bradley McDonald, who will retire after a 24-year career and return to his home state of Idaho, according to Wright-Patterson.
Sherman, an Air Force Academy graduate like McDonald, is a detachment commander at the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
He said Thursday in a telephone interview it was “incredibly humbling” to be named commander of Wright-Patterson.
“The first priority for me is to learn as much as I can and really get an appreciation for the base and the community that supports the base and then from there we start looking at what are the strategic goals that outline that,” he said. He also said he would work to strengthen community partnerships.
“Some of the objectives that we want to meet are things that can be mutually shared,” Sherman said.
In his 23-year career, this is his first long-term assignment to Wright-Patterson. A base commander typically stays for a two-year tour. He has an extensive background in leading security forces and the security of military installations, serving in key positions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. He was also chief of the AFIMSC protective services division in San Antonio, Texas, according to a biography.
In recent years, Wright-Patterson commanders have faced a series of challenges, from government shutdowns, furloughs and budget cuts, to base security concerns and dealing with groundwater contamination both on base and concerns from state and Dayton officials it could spread off site.
The wing with more than 5,000 military and civilian personnel supports services to the base’s more than 100 tenants, deploys airmen overseas and maintains security of the sprawling base.
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“I very much appreciate interacting not only on the leadership level but interacting with the people that are actually doing the job,” he said. “So I like having a very personal leadership style as far as getting to know and understand the people that are making the mission happen.”
Sherman, a jump master and senior parachutist, has had held key leadership posts throughout the Air Force. He’s also a graduate of the Naval Post Graduate School in California and the National War College in Washington, D.C. The Corona, California native is married to his wife, Laurie.
“I think one of the fundamental components that I believe in is that leadership is service and you are serving the people that you have been entrusted with. So I think there’s a great responsibility that comes along with that and I need to respect that responsibility,” he said.
Wright-Patterson is one of the most organizationally complex bases in the country and the state’s largest single-site employer with more than 27,000 civilian employees and military personnel. The base is headquarters for the Air Force Materiel Command, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.
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