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New commander takes charge of MacDill

by Staff Sgt Randy Redman
Thunderbolt editor
Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm

Lt. Gen. William Welser, 18th Air Force commander, hands the flag of the 6th Air Mobility Wing to Col. Margaret Woodward Thursday during a change-of-command ceremony held in Hangar 3.

Brig. Gen. David "Tanker" Snyder relinquished command of the 6th Air Mobility Wing Thursday to Col. Margaret Woodward, former deputy director for colonel matters at the Air force Senior Leader Management Office at the Pentagon, Washington D.C.

Lt. Gen. William Welser, 18th Air Force commander, officiated over the ceremony in Hangar 3. Other distinguished visitors in attendance at the ceremony included Pam Iorio, Tampa's mayor, and many civic and business leaders from the Tampa community. In addition, there was a formation comprised of Airmen from the 6th Medical Group, the 6th Maintenance Group, the 6th Operations Group and the 6th Mission Support Group.

"Thank you for granting me the flag of the 6th Air Mobility Wing," Colonel Woodward said to General Welser. "You have my word I will carry it forward as long as I am in command.

"Never before has the mission of the unit been so important, and never has the support of a community been as strong as it is in Tampa," she said after assuming command.

"Commanding is all about people. It's about understanding your diversity and leveraging your strengths. It's about making things better every day."

Colonel Woodward entered the Air Force in 1983 as a Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. She attended undergraduate pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, and earned her wings in 1983. Colonel Woodward has served as the secretary of defense's deputy director of protocol and commanded an operations group. She is a command pilot having logged more than 3,500 hours in the T-37, T-38 and KC-135 A/Q/R/T.

There are currently 14 female Air Force wing commanders; four of which are in Air Mobility Command. Colonel Woodward will be the 6th Air Mobility Wing's first female wing commander.

"She is a leader's leader and comes with recommendations from the highest levels," said General Welser. "She has been involved in operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch and Allied Force, and I have no doubt she will continue to do great things here at MacDill."

A first for any change of command, General Welser singled out two members from the base to recognize them for their outstanding work under the leadership of General Snyder. 1st Lt. Erin Dorrance, 6th AMW Public Affairs deputy chief; and Tech. Sgt. Mike Hassett, 6th Security Forces Squadron, were caught off guard by the attention. Even more surprising for Sergeant Hassett was the STEP-promotion to master sergeant he received when called up on stage.

General Snyder was also presented with two awards: the Legion of Merit for his leadership and accomplishments while in command at MacDill, and the Air Medal for his service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while deployed to Central Command's area of responsibility in Southwest Asia.

"Tanker was one of the few career generals we have left as a wing commander in the 18th Air Force," said General Welser. "And while he was here, not only did he lead, but during his command, transport aircraft under his command moved more than 1.5 million people. That's the entire population of Philadelphia!

"Tanker fought a war at the side of General Handy (Air Mobility Command commander) and even deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. However, (he) tells me the men and women of this wing are the reason for its success."

General Snyder has been selected for reassignment to Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, where he will serve as the U.S. Pacific Command strategic planning and policy deputy director.

General Snyder took command of the wing Jan. 9, 2003. He oversaw initiatives such as the opening of the Davis Conference Center, an updated Enlisted Club, new military family housing communities, a recently approved visiting quarters and collocated club, a 125-foot air traffic control tower, and many other projects on base. It was also during his command that Tampa Bay won the Abilene Trophy for best community support of an Air Mobility Command base, and MacDill had its first air show since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.




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