JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
"There never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything you set your sights on and as I pass the 437th Airlift Wing guidon off to my successor, I will be thinking about how fast my time here has gone by," said Col. Darren Hartford, 437th AW commander.
Hartford took command of the more than 2,200 plus C-17 wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., Oct. 5, 2012.
Hartford led a unit that achieved several major milestones to include: flying more than 21,000 sorties, transporting an astounding 224,000 tons of warfighter material and moving 121,000 passengers ... more than any other mobility wing in Air Mobility Command.
But, you will never hear Hartford take credit for any of these accomplishments.
"My leadership perspective has changed over time," said Hartford. "I realize I am at the bottom of the pyramid and the Airmen are at the top. The Airmen get the job done. The job of a leader is to support and to equip the Airmen to get the job done as well as staying out of their way so they can complete the mission."
During Hartford's command, the 437th AW also executed a short notice PHOENIX BANNER movement requiring the wing to provide five C-17s, 11 aircrews and14 ground support Airmen to move 134,400 pounds of cargo while simultaneously executing a full-time Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff directed alert force, while continuing to provide for Air Mobility Command tasking's, and complete previously scheduled training. When the dust settled the unit received a "Highly Effective" rating in Mission Execution.
"The pride Airmen took in what they did, that will be the lasting memory for me; whether it was the fleet services Airmen, crew chiefs, loadmasters or pilots," said Hartford. "The Airmen in the 315th as well as on the joint base side of things also took pride in getting the mission done, which in turn made it possible for us to fix, fill and fly jets."
Aside from the high ops tempo and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM support, Hartford also became a part of history as a member of the flight crew delivering the final C-17 to JB Charleston on the 20th anniversary of the first C-17 delivery.
"To be a part of that event, celebrating 20 years of C-17 heritage is amazing," said Hartford. "I'm new to the C-17 world, so it was a great honor and privilege to make that flight."
Hartford graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989. After flight training, he flew the C-5 Galaxy, and later, KC-135 Stratotanker before transitioning to the C-17.
Aside from not flying as much as he would have liked, Hartford said he wished he would have spent more time out and about with the Airmen.
"The Airmen here truly care about each other, care about doing the right thing and care about the mission," said Hartford. "I continue to challenge them to have the moral courage to care for one another, especially when it's tough."
On May 22, 2014, Hartford will relinquish command in preparation for his next assignment as the 379th Air Expeditionary commander in Al Udeid.
"I look forward to my next assignment where I will continue to lead Airmen and serve at the tip of the spear," said Hartford. "I want to send a thank you to all the Airmen across the joint base and the community for their support, especially the families of our Airmen."