Col. Jeffrey McGalliard accepted command duties of the 445th Airlift Wing from retiring Col. Stephen Goeman on Saturday with the usual impressive pomp and circumstance.
Goeman hinted the change might have been much different had the federal government continued its recent shutdown.
“We didn’t know if we’d have a change of command (ceremony),” Goeman told about 500 reservists and other dignitaries in Hangar 4016, serenaded by a partial Air Force band. “I thought I’d just move out and leave the key under the mat.”
Goeman was in charge of the 445th and about 2,000 reservists for nearly six years but was facing mandatory retirement age.
He said he and his family are staying in the area.
“This is a special place,” he said. “This (WPAFB) is the best place.”
McGalliard, who was born in Indiana and graduated from San Diego State University in 1985, was on active Air Force duty for 14 years before switching to the reserves in 1999. He arrives after commanding the 513th Air Control Group at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma since October 2011.
“There are some gems in the Air Force where the local community pulls around,” McGalliard said. “For any military family moving around, it comes to a new location, with new schools, a new community. This community makes them feel at home. Gives them a focus. Makes them into lethal war fighters.
“It’s a huge success story in Dayton.”
It is also a place where he is arriving at a difficult time. There is sequestration budget cuts, the Oct. 1-16 shutdown (which could happen again next year) and furloughs.
McGalliard was taken on a tour of one of those major government expenses, a C-17 Tactical Airlifter, parked just outside the hanger. That’s a $200 million cargo plane, nine of which belong to the 445th.
“The Air Force has been at war for 23 (continuous) years,” McGalliard said. “During that time, we’ve had challenging budgets and put more money in reserve and guard (units) like this one.
“We will do with the resources we are given. We’ll have to make some tough decisions. Meanwhile, I get to come to work with 2,000 great Americans.
“I’m coming home to the mission I know and love and the part of the country I know and love.”