156th Airlift Squadron Change of Command
By Master Sgt. Stephen Wilkins, 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 05, 2011
Charlotte, N.C. -- As 145th Operations Group Commander Col. Roger Williams presented the Meritorious Service Medal to Col. Thomas Brown here November 6, for his part in multiple deployments of varying challenges when the 156th Airlift Squadron relied upon his leadership and direction, he gently smiled as if recalling nostalgic days of early manhood. Then Brown relinquished Command to Col. Brian L. Ratchford.
After a testosterone-generated story about Brown leading a combat unit on deployment, Williams suggested Ratchford has big shoes to fill. Brown - "I know you'll continue excellent performance."
Wing Commander Tony McMillan offered his congratulations to Brown, with a pronouncement that "after all the success [leading the 156th AS] that means onward and upward to broader, bigger things." McMillan intimated a familiar professional relationship when he and Col. Brown often crossed paths. "We shared similar career stops," he said, adding that, " In fact arrived here same time same day." He carried a message of encourage and confidence in Col. Ratchford.
Ratchford assumes command of a flying squadron responsible for transport of materiel and medical services, assists in emergency evacuations, supply drops and fire fighting efforts whenever called, around the world. According to Wing leadership he is ready.
Of his own preparedness, Ratchford says his mentors have molded him. Without singling out any one greater influence, he related, "I've had GREAT Squadron Commanders ... I've had the opportunity to watch different styles and personalities do the job," he claims, describing the development of his own leadership style. But he said he hasn't shied from challenge while building responsibilities in his life. "I've taken every opportunity to put myself into challenging spots so that I could have the chance to grow my skillset."
With steely determination, Ratchford proclaims solid hope for the future. "Our mission is and always has been to Fly, Fight, and Win. Every one in the 156 AS contributes in one way or another." He said it sometimes is difficult for troops to consider their true value. "Over the past few years, manning documents have been reduced and that means everyone who is still here is that much more important and vital to our mission accomplishment."
But, he is committed to getting each member the tools and time to be successful, adding, "I always want to see us perform at the highest levels because I want the rest of DOD to know what an outstanding organization we have. I will always support improvement in our processes, training and performance. I am convinced that no one in the USAF, ANG, or AFRES can or does do the mission of C-130 Airlift as well as we do.