Air Force Lt. Col. Heather A. McDaniel officially moved June 18 from the Army Logistics University across Fort Lee to her new assignment as commander of the 345th Training Squadron.
Formerly the Air Force liaison to the Joint Logistics Course, she now leads the 88-member team of enlisted, officer and civilian professionals who provide joint technical training in air transportation, traffic management and services to more than 7,000 student-Airman annually.
McDaniel replaced Lt. Col. Terrence R. Kilgore who is retiring October 1.
Standing in for the 37th Training Group Commander, Air Force Col. Stephen G. Bailey, who couldn’t make it to the ceremony, Fort Lee Garrison Commander Col. Hollie J. Martin presided over the social-media-broadcasted change of command performed in the Transportation Training Building.
“Thank you 345th for allowing me to be part of this ceremony today,” Martin acknowledged in her remarks. “It is my honor to represent your commander who couldn’t be with us due to the current COVID environment.”
Pointing out the fact that McDaniel was already contributing her professional skills to the Sustainment Center of Excellence, Martin said many are aware of her leadership ability. “She has an impressive service record, so we are excited for the squadron, herself and her family. … Heather, I have every confidence in your leadership abilities and know you will take the squadron to the next level. On behalf of the United States Air Force 37th Training Group commander, I want to say ‘Welcome to Command Heather and Team McDaniel.’”
When McDaniel stepped before the lectern, she joked about how she just came off the teaching platform, and there would be checks on learning and an ice breaker like she would have used at ALU. She then told the assembled supporters she would be recycling her jokes for the next two years, and although they may not get funnier, unit members would find a way to laugh at them to curry favor with her.
That brought the laughter she was seeking.
“I’m excited to be here today and humbled by the opportunity to come back into command,” McDaniel expressed. “I’m also very impressed with the squadron that T. K. has turned over to me. This is my second time stepping into the shoes of the man of the hour, and I know it’s not going to be an easy task. … I know I have the highest standards to achieve for myself and to support you all through.”
Transitioning to her next thought, she said a quote from a dead guy would be an appropriate attention-getter, as she was taught in her Army instructor course, but she chose to change things up for the occasion.
“Recently, I was with Lt. Col. Kilgore when he was addressing new airmen coming into the squadron. He looked at them and said, ‘One of you is going to be the next commander (or) you might be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force one day.’ I thought, ‘Holy cow, that’s what I get to do here.’
“I get to support this team as it leads the next generation of Airmen – the next combat Airmen, the next leaders of the Air Force. I’m super excited for that.”
Martin’s farewell remarks about Kilgore included a list of command accomplishments ranging from improved facilities and raising the quality of training to bringing about international partnerships that strengthened national defense.
“His leadership and positive approach to people-first also resulted in the squadron having zero sexual assault incidents, which stands as a testament to his caring and down-to-earth approach to leadership. It is one of his many talents as an Air Force officer.”
When Kilgore took his turn at the lectern to say farewell, his voice was strong in support of God and family, and to those he has served over the last two years.
“I must thank my fellow Griffins. … Thank you for allowing me to work for you because that was my commitment when I stood on this very spot on May 30, 2018, I said that day, ‘I work for you,’” Kilgore recalled.
“As your commander, I was your leader second. Most notably, I was your servant first. I worked for you and everything I did was for you. If your life didn’t improve, I didn’t do a damn thing. Thank you for trusting me with your confidence, your secrets, your joys, your pains, and most of all, your successes.
“As I pass the guidon to Lt. Col. McDaniel,” he continued, “I pass onto her the very best of the 37th Training Wing. … Heather, the stick is yours. Pull back hard, see the sky, climb fast and forge new heights. Serve this unit well, and it will grow both you and our Air Force.”