Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


The 314th Mission Support Group changed commanders last Wednesday morning in a moving ceremony in Hangar 276 at Little Rock Air Force Base. Col. Scott C. Lockard succeeded Col. John A. Starkey as commander. Hundreds of military people, the officers’ relatives and community leaders watched as Brig. Gen. Kip Self, the base commander, presided over the passing of the group’s guidon from Col. Starkey to Col. Lockard.

For some 60 years, the Air Force has attracted the cream of the crop, where diversity is its strength. That is reflected in the colonels’ backgrounds: Col. Starkey, a native New Yorker, and Col. Lockard, a native of Kentucky, come from different sections of the nation, but they strengthen their branch of the military with the unique qualities of their regions.

A sense of camaraderie, a unity of purpose, was evident at the ceremony. But beyond that, as Gen. Self put it, there is a certain je ne sais quoi in the Air Force, a can-do spirit that has made the base a center of excellence in the military.

As Gen. Self said, the 314th Mission Support Group, which trains and sends flight crews into battle, will remain in good hands under a new commander. The general reminded the audience that the military never lacks for good leadership: When one outstanding commander like Col. Starkey leaves, another one like Col. Lockard takes his place.

Col. Lockard and the men and women of the 314th MSG, like the rest of the air base, are on duty around the clock. For those of us who only catch glimpses of their important work, their preparedness means we’re safe and secure, a comforting notion in these difficult times.