Changes in Command

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Three change of command ceremonies took place here at the 117th Air Refueling Wing on Saturday.

Families and personnel gathered to watch the 117th Operations Group, 106th Air Refueling Squadron and the 117th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hold ceremonies to signify the changes in leadership.

Col. Scott Graham, the 117 OG Commander, relinquished command to Lt. Col. Allen King. Graham is retiring after 29 of years of service. He became the 117 OG Commander in 2012 after serving as the 106 ARS Commander.

King became the 106 ARS commander in 2014 after serving as the Chief of Wing Safety. He joined the unit in October 1989 as a crew chief, went to navigator school in 1993 and Undergraduate Pilot Training in 1999.

"We have the best team going in," said King. "The overall time that an average Guardsman is spending [on orders] is well in excess of 100 plus days a year ... it takes special people to do that and not give it up and quit. They are staying in because they love the unit." King relinquished command of the 106 ARS to Lt. Col. Mike Metcalf.

Metcalf transferred into the Air National Guard from active duty in 2004. Metcalf became the 117 AMXS commander after working in the 106 ARS Scheduling Office.

"I grew up in operations as pilot... I was taken in by the AMXS as their commander and I learned a whole lot over there." Metcalf relinquished command of the 117 AMXS to Maj. Steen Milne.

Milne started out in maintenance as an electrician and was deployed after 9/11. Several years later he was hired to be a pilot and continued to teach as a full-time teacher.

"I thought I would always come back to maintenance," said Milne. "I have always stayed close to the guys over here ... they are carrying a lot of burden to get this mission done. They are an integral part of the Guard."

The change of command ceremony is deeply rooted in military history. Organizational flags were used on the battlefield to serve as rallying points and reminders of a soldier's allegiance to their leader. The passing of the organizational flags from the outgoing leader to the incoming leader at the 117 ARW on Saturday signified the official changes in leadership.