BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --
The 117th Air Refueling Wing hosted three change of command ceremonies here on Dec. 9.
The three ceremonies were for the 117 ARW, the 117th Operations Group and the 106th Air Refueling Squadron.
Col. Scott Grant, the 117 ARW Vice Commander, assumed command of the 117th Air Refueling Wing from Col. Cliff James. Lt. Col. Mike Adams, the 106 ARS Director of Operations, assumed command of the 106 ARS. Lt. Col. Mike Metcalf, the 106 ARS Commander, will be promoted to colonel and assumed command of the 117 OG. Col. Allen King, the 117 OG Commander, became the 117 ARW Vice Commander.
Many special guests and dignitaries were in attendance for the wing’s change of command. Among these guests were Alabama State Representative, 45th District, Mr. Dickie Drake, the Adjutant General, Alabama National Guard Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon, former 117th Air Refueling Wing Commander and Air Component Commander of the Alabama Air National Guard retired Maj. Gen. Paul Brown, the Air Component Commander, Alabama Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Samuel Black, the Assistant Adjutant General for Air Brig. Gen. Jeff Newton, former Vice Commander and Assistant Adjutant General for Air retired Brig. Gen. Paul Pocopanni, the 187th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Randal Efferson, retired Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and Hoover High School Principal Mr. Don Hulin.
This was a historic day in many ways for the 117 ARW.
“This is the beginning of a new chapter in the now 100-year life of the 117th Air Refueling Wing,” said Grant. “The world is evolving, the needs of the Department of Defense are evolving. We have to be very flexible. We are warriors back on mission, we are taking care of our people and we are developing tomorrow’s leaders.”
James will transfer to Joint Force Headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama to serve as the Director of Operations. He has been selected by the Air Force as the first Air National Guard officer to serve as an Air Operations Center, Tanker Airlift Control Center, Senior at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
“My 37-plus years at the 117th has been a remarkable and professionally rewarding experience,” said James. “The airmen of our wing never ceased to amaze me as they continued to excel and always pulled together to get the job done, no matter the task. It was a pleasure to continuously hear accolades when I traveled about the outstanding reputation of the 117th. I will always feel both proud and privileged to have served as the 117th Wing Commander.”
The change of command ceremony is deeply rooted in military history, when organizational flags were used on the battlefield to serve as rallying points and reminders of a soldier’s allegiance to their leader. The three change of command ceremonies allowed members of the 117 ARW to witness the official changes in leadership.