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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | July 17, 2012

459 ARW holds Change of Command following successful ORI

By Senior Airman Amber Russell 459th Air Refueling Wing

Col. Samuel C. Mahaney, 459th Air Refueling Wing commander, relinquished command to Col. William H. Mason, 931st Air Refueling Group former commander, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., during a change of command ceremony held here at Hanger 10, July 15. The change in leadership comes shortly after a ceremony celebrating the wings recent victory in the latest Operational Readiness Inspection.

Upon assuming command nine months ago, Mahaney said his goals were to make sure the wing is taking care of the members, their training, their pay, their equipment and extending out to take care of their families and civilian employers.

Mahaney has led the 459 ARW by his mantra, "Take care of your people, and your people will take care of the mission."

According to officiating officer, Maj. Gen. Mark A. Kyle, 4th Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command commander, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., the outcome of the ORI supports Mahaney's mantra.

"I'm very familiar with this wing," said Kyle. "I've followed it for about 10 years; I can tell you that you've never been more properly postured for your rise to excellence than you are now. I ask each of you to look backwards to your last ORI and see where you were and where you've come. You cannot do any better than what you have done."

Kyle had this to say to the wing as well, "I am thrilled, amazed, happy, proud, relieved, but I am not surprised. Thank you for your rise to excellence in this past ORI."

Mahaney said he was proud of each member for coming together as a team and showing professionalism and respect to accomplish the group effort.

"I especially want to mention Col. Gary Dickinson and his ORI planning team who put together an inspection game plan that could not fail. We did not have a single safety violation or violation of the non-negotiable items."

Although Mahaney has been with the wing less than a year, Kyle said he continually puts the people first and the mission above all else.

"It has been a short but intense ride," said Mahaney. "I'm thankful for the effort you all have put forward. In the past nine months we've prepared for and conquered an ORI; we've prepared for a Nuclear ORI, focused on our people; created a culture of feedback; and projected power globally through wing unit and KC-135 deployments."

Mahaney is highly visible and he takes a deep interest in people and the missions, said the officiating officer.

"I almost think I owe you an apology, but I don't because the guy I'm bringing in behind him is exactly the same type of leader. I think both leaders have the character, experience and caring compassion to do a great job leading the wing."

The reins of responsibility have been passed on to Col. Mason.

"Col. Mason will pick up right where I left off," said Mahaney. "You are in good hands. Leadership for this wing is in place. It's been an honor to serve with you. My wife Chris and I will remember our time here with fondness. We look forward to your continued success as you continue to rise to excellence."

Mason said when he graduated Naval School 25 years ago he never would have thought he would have be taking command of this high-visibility Air Force wing.

"It's an honor to be here today," said Mason. "I am very humbled by this opportunity."

The new leader also expressed pride in his wing.

"What an outstanding job you all have done. Keep up the good work."

Additionally, he empathized with the tasks required of wing members and the sacrifices they make to accomplish their missions.

"I understand your experiences," said Mason regarding the impacts of the tempo of deployments and inspections have on service members and their families. "When I joined the Air Force Reserve in 2002, I was immediately activated and deployed. I've done everything you can experience in the military since 9/11. We must continue to look to the future. We cannot afford to dwell on the past. Our schedule is not going to get any easier."

The upcoming Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection and other inspections, deployments and mobilizations will keep service members of the 459 ARW actively moving forward.

"My priorities are pretty simple," said Mason. "As an operational reserve, we will maintain our readiness and we will be prepared to answer the call whenever it comes. We must be ready to do whatever our leadership calls upon us to do. Your priorities, in this order are your family, your civilian career and your military career. I will do everything in my power to get you what you need. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you."