JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Col. John Lamontagne took command of the 437th Airlift Wing during a change of command ceremony May 22, 2014, on Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
Lamontagne accepted command of the wing from Col. Darren Hartford, who has commanded it since Oct. 5, 2012.
This will be Lamontagne's third tour in Charleston as he was previously the Assistant Ops Officer then Ops Officer of the 15th Airlift Squadron from June 2007 to April 2008, when he took command of the 15th AS, a position he held until June 2010.
"It's great to be back at Joint Base Charleston," said Lamontagne. "We've established lifelong friends here and we're looking to do some more of that in the years ahead."
During the ceremony, presiding officer Maj. Gen. Barbara Faulkenberry, 18th Air Force commander, presented Hartford with the Legion of Merit for his outstanding leadership. Hartford then relinquished his command as the unit's guidon was passed to Lamontagne.
"The greatness of his leadership is shown in the accomplishments of the 437th AW," said Faulkenberry.
Before relinquishing command to Lamontagne, Hartford spoke to his Airmen for the last time as the 437th AW commander.
"To the men and women of the 437th AW, I'm leaving you in great hands," said Hartford. "I've never had the privilege of being stationed with Lamontagne, but I've known him by reputation for a long time as a leader, someone who cares about airmen and someone who knows how to get the job done. I know you will continue to excel and exceed all previous mission sets and performance under his leadership."
"I stand before you today, humbled and grateful, to have the opportunity to serve some of the finest airmen in the Air Force," Hartford added.
Hartford's next assignment is commander, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Al Udeid.
"I can't think of a more fitting use of his skills than to command Airmen in that environment," said Faulkenberry.
Before returning to Charleston, Lamontagne's previous assignment was as the 379th Expeditionary Operations Group, Southwest Asia commander.
Lamontagne is a 1992 graduate of the Air Force Academy where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Astronautical Engineering. He also holds master's degrees in Human Relations, Systems Engineering, Airpower Art & Science and National Security Studies.
"I know Col. Lamontagne will do well because of three things," said Faulkenberry. "He has the support of a great family, the experiences and professional development needed for success, and he is a proven commander."
"The significant responsibilities of command start today," said Faulkenberry to Lamontagne. "You have my full faith and confidence and I know you will do well."
After assuming command and receiving his first salute as the commanding officer of the 437th AW, Lamontagne addressed his troops and invited guests.
"To the men and women of the 437th AW, my priorities come down to three things," said Lamontagne. "The mission, Airmen, and fun. Mission: it starts with standards and ends with combat execution. Airmen: without Airmen, we've got dozens of C-17 Globemaster III's that would make for a very nice airpark out on the ramp. The Airmen provide that combat capability and they are a priority along with their families. And fun: I've had responsible fun in the Air Force for 22 years and that's not going to change. Thank you again to the men and women of the 437th AW, it's great to be back at JB Charleston."