JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Col. Darren Hartford took command of the Air Force's busiest fleet of C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the 437th Airlift Wing, during a change of command ceremony here Oct. 5.
Hartford accepted command of the wing from Col. Erik Hansen, who commanded it since March 29, 2011. Hansen's next assignment is a Headquarters, U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany.
During the ceremony, presiding officer Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, the 18th Air Force commander, presented Hansen with the Legion of Merit for outstanding leadership while commanding the 437th AW. Hansen then relinquished his command as the unit's guidon was passed to Hartford.
"Erik was entrusted with command of the 437th AW and he led with courage, integrity and passion," said McDew. "He has left a lasting mark on the wing and the base."
In his final remarks to Team Charleston members, Hansen said, "To the men and women of Team Charleston; you belong to the greatest Air Force and, specifically, to the men and women of the 437th AW, you belong to the greatest airlift wing. You've never stopped amazing me by accomplishing the mission of global mobility and I know you will continue this excellence under Col. Hartford's command. I salute you for what you've done and who you are."
Hartford previously served as the Assistant Director of Operations at Headquarters, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and is a 1989 graduate of the Air Force Academy. He has a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering as well as master's degrees in Human Resource Development, the Operational Art of Military Science and National Security Strategy.
Some of Hartford's previous assignments include C-5 Galaxy pilot, Flight Examiner Aircraft Commander and Air Refueling Instructor at the 22nd Airlift Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Hartford has also held numerous command positions and has more than 4,000 flying hours in C-5, C-17 and KC-135 aircraft.
"He is a mobility warrior with a proven background in joint basing," said McDew. "However, that's not why I picked him. It's his leadership. He is a true leader and that is the most important element."
McDew also offered some advice for the new commander: "Lead. Airmen want to be proud and see the bigger picture, and he's (Hartford) ready to show it to them."
After assuming command and receiving his first salute as the commanding officer of the 437th AW, Hartford addressed his troops and invited guests.
"I am honored and humbled to be standing in front of all of you," Hartford said. "I look forward to meeting and getting to know all of you who contribute to this wings' mission. I also look forward to continuing the success here at the 437th AW, success that has cemented this wing as the premiere airlift wing in the Air Force."