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Colonel Halpin takes command of 6th AMW

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

Colonel Donald Halpin, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, speaks to the Noncommissioned Officer's Professional Development group Wednesday.

When Brig. Gen. Tanker Snyder deployed in May he left some big shoes to fill and so far it's taken two men to fill them.

Col. Donald J. Halpin is the latest. The new base vice commander took the acting commander baton from Col. Brian Kelly, who now is back on the job as commander of the 6th Operations Group.

Colonel Halpin changed places with Colonel Kelly July 22, taking command of the wing. No stranger to the base, Colonel Halpin previously spent a year as commander of the 91st Air Refueling Squadron. But until General Snyder returns, he will be responsible for leading every squadron on base, more than 3,000 people, overseeing base property and capital assets totaling more than $2.8 billion, and controlling an annual budget exceeding $249 million.

Prior to his arrival at MacDill, the colonel was the Global Mobility Concept of Operations Champion in the Directorate of Operational Capabilities Requirements, HQ Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

"We worked with the major commands and Air Staff to define and assess those mobility capabilities needed by our nation today and in the future," explained Colonel Halpin. "In that role, I had the opportunity to see much of how the Air Force works--from requirements definition to acquisition strategy to programmatic realities. It prepared me well for my current role by providing me a sense of how MacDill fits into 'the big picture' and how vital our role is to mission accomplishment."

Colonel Halpin has been very impressed with the quality of service he received from around the base.

"From the gate to billeting to inprocessing, it's all been good," he said. "I'm not just saying that as the new vice commander. I've seen attention to detail and care paid to numerous customers besides me and my family. That's the way it should be…eventually we are all providers and all customers."

Colonel Halpin entered the Air Force in 1984 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. His career includes a variety of operational and staff positions including commander of the 91st ARS from summer 2000 to summer 2001.

"I was new to the KC-135R, originally being a C-130 pilot, and quickly fell in love with the mission and the people. My transition to 'jets' was an easy one due to their efforts," he recalled. "It's great to see the 91st still here and still performing its mission--which is so vital to operations around the world."

Additionally, he had the opportunity to help shape the "new DV airlift mission" which eventually became the 310th Airlift Squadron.

"My experience taught me the value of everyone who makes the mission happen," he said. "In my current job I'm seeing a lot more than I did before. There are some real tough problems that get handled and you never hear about them. I encourage anyone who gets the chance to 'bridge out' a little to do so-it's a big world out there."

Colonel Halpin said much has changed since he left in 2001. He mentioned new base housing, the Davis Conference Center, the new runway, plans for a new medical clinic and MacDill's continuing excellent relations with the mission partners and community friends.

"These changes have been made possible by the hard work of many for a long time," the colonel said. "General Snyder's vision of world-class operations permeates all we do; I've seen that personally. Folks are proud to work here and they should be; it's a great mission and location."

The wing's overall mission is to provide worldwide air refueling and combatant commander airlift in support of the Air Force's Global Reach, Global Power mission, and to provide support to Headquarters U.S. Central Command, Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command, and 49 other mission partners who call MacDill home.

"The wing's reputation for excellence and world-class performance is well known and I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this outstanding organization," said Colonel Halpin.

Looking ahead at the next few months, Colonel Halpin said he doesn't foresee any changes to the well- oiled machine that is the 6th AMW.

"The Wing is maintaining its high standards and advancing the vision of a world-class organization. That's not the kind of thing we only do when the boss is watching…we should do it all the time," he said. "You can't fake excellence or 'cram' for high standards.

General Snyder knows we haven't relaxed in his absence, nor would we, because while he established the vision and set the standards, it's really our vision, standards and base. It's where we work and play, and many live. I'm proud of MacDill and our people, and I know General Snyder is too."




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