JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
The change of command is a tradition that has survived throughout military history since its 18th-century origin. The ceremony is designed to allow subordinates to witness the formality of command changes from one officer to another.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it obstacles involving traditional large gatherings, but it was no obstacle that the 433rd Airlift Wing could not overcome.
Through the use of today’s technology and video conference applications, Airmen and civilians – along with friends and family – can still watch as one commander departs and a new commander takes over.
Two commanders within the 433rd Mission Support Group assumed commands virtually at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland June 6. The 74th Aerial Port Squadron officially gained its new commander, Maj. Kristen B. Fowler, who relieved Lt. Col. Brian A. Angell from his command. Two hours later, Angell assumed command of the 433rd Logistics Readiness Squadron.
“I was part of this squadron as a captain from 2011 to 2015,” said Fowler. “It was my first Reserve unit after serving seven years on active duty, and here is where I really learned what it means to be a Reserve Citizen Airman as well as a ‘Port Dawg’.”
The commanders did not handle guidon flags in either ceremony, keeping in strict compliance with health and safety guidelines. And despite only a small group of attendees witness the ceremony in the room, the group practiced physical distancing, by keeping at least six feet of separation between them, while hundreds of viewers, tuned in to watch from various locations around the world.
“This is truly a remarkable and memorable platform, virtually sharing the change of command ceremony,” Angell said. “I’ll always have this memory and experience to share with my grandkids. I’m very happy to have this opportunity and I’m excited to be in this position.”
Col. Wayne M. Williams, 433rd Mission Support Group commander, presided over both ceremonies. “We live in a rapidly changing society and culture,” he said. “We’re adapting to working virtually to help combat the spread of COVID-19 virus to slow a pandemic. The virtual world brings new challenges that we will adapt to and continue to be the world’s foremost Air Force.”