STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. - Col. Michele Kilgore became the first woman to assume command of the 109th Airlift Wing during a change of command ceremony here Oct. 15.
Kilgore, a command pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours and seven deployments under her belt, becomes the 14th commander of the 109th AW. She assumed command from Col. Shawn A. Clouthier who served as the wing commander since 2012.
In a time honored traditional change of command ceremony representing the transfer of responsibility from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander, Kilgore respectfully accepted the guidon of the wing from Maj. Gen. Anthony German, the adjutant general of New York and commander of the New York Air National Guard.
"Ability and capability is not a gender thing," said Clouthier."She will bring a whole new perspective, it will be great for our history as a wing."
Kilgore is the third generation of military in her family with both her father and grandfather having received a Purple Heart while serving.
"Flying is in my blood, and I am excited to bring my vast expertise to this wing; it's not about me, it's about the mission," said Kilgore.
Kilgore said it is an honor to be selected to follow in Clouthier's footsteps.
"It's a privilege to follow in (Col. Clouthier's) footsteps and his legacy of over 35 years here. Thank you for the tutelage over these last few weeks, and I am indebted for the education so that I can hit the ground running," Kilgore said to Clouthier during the ceremony.
The ceremony was well attended by 109th Airmen, family members including her husband Col. Robert Kilgore, 107th Airlift Wing commander, and several military leaders from across New York at both the wing and state level.
"Whether it's the Arctic or Antarctic, domestically or globally, service to this nation is a calling; it is the noblest of professions and you have my commitment to protect the mission from pole to pole, preserve the legacy, and honor the heritage of our wing that is nearly 70 years old," Kilgore said to the Airmen of the wing.