JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Col. Sharon Bannister relinquished command of the 79th Medical Wing during an in-activation ceremony presided over by Maj. Gen. Darryl Burke, Air Force District of Washington commander, here, June 16.
Before the conclusion of the ceremony, Col. E. John Teichert, 11th Wing commander, activated the 11th Medical Group and passed the group’s guidon to its new commander, Col. Leslie Knight, former 779th Medical Group commander.
The order to in-activate the 79th MDW, which became effective June 15, was given by Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Stephen W. Wilson.
In her remarks, Bannister thanked Burke for his leadership and then praised the men and women of the former 79th MDW for their professionalism, innovation, and the quality of care they deliver to patients daily.
“Our Airmen absolutely never fail to meet AFDW’s mission,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of this winning team.”
The 79th MDW was one of only three of the Air Force’s medical wings and, since 2006, had been the singular voice for the Air Force medical assets in the National Capital Region by providing in-garrison care and responding to any type of contingency.
Bannister continued by saying that the activation of the medical organization to a group under the 11th Wing will not change the operational capability Capital Medics bring to bear, nor will it change the high-level quality of care they deliver to patients.
Just as they did when they were assigned to the 79th MDW, the 11th MDG medics will also continue to provide full-spectrum medical support services to more than 550,000 Department of Defense, military, Wounded Warrior and retiree beneficiaries at six locations across the National Capital Region: Joint Base Andrews, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Fort George G. Meade and the Pentagon.
Some of these services are provided at the Malcolm Grow Medical Clinics and Surgery Center, where Capital Medics support presidential/Congressional special airlift missions, maintain a 45-bed Aeromedical Staging Facility (ASF) and perform Warfighter eye surgery to hundreds of Airmen and service members annually.
The ASF serves as the East Coast hub for aeromedical evacuations, returning wounded, ill and injured patients returning from U.S. Central, European and African Commands to the homeland for care.
“Along with AFDW, the 11th Wing and Headquarters Air Force, we worked hard to set up a new structure that preserves the same level of support to AFDW and the same level of care for our beneficiaries as received under the 79th Medical Wing,” she said. “Our Airmen will continue to excel under the capable command of Col. Teichert and I am absolutely sure Col. Knight is the right person to command this super-group of 1,500 professional Capital Medics.”
In his remarks, Teichert welcomed the hundreds of Capital Medics as part of the “Chief’s Own” and assured Bannister that her leadership will have a lasting impact.
“While the organization names will change over the course of this ceremony, your true legacy lives on in the lives of these medics who will go on to do outstanding things long after you step off this stage,” Teichert said to Bannister.
During the ceremony, the guidons for the 79th Medical Wing and its two groups and five squadrons were furled and cased. They will be stored in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.
As part of the organizational changes effected by the inactivation, some of the former 79th Medical Wing members will now serve on the HQ AFDW Command Surgeon Special Staff Directorate.