The former commander
reminisced about his 34-year career.
By SEAN BARRON
VIENNA — For the next few months, listening, talking to subordinates and reviewing aspects of his new employer will likely take up a large portion of Col. Udo Karl McGregor’s itinerary.
After all, those are desirable traits when taking over as the 910th Airlift Wing’s new commander.
“I’m going to get a thread of things from conversations regarding what needs to be done” long and short term at the air base, McGregor said after a pair of ceremonies Sunday at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. The first event was a change in command ceremony ushering him in.
McGregor took the helm from outgoing commander Col. Timothy Thomson, who officially retires Tuesday from the Air Force Reserve after becoming the reserve station’s commander in June 2004. Those three years were part of his 34-year military career.
Despite Thomson’s retiring, he will remain active in the military. His next move will take him to Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, where he will work as a civilian academic instructor as well as in the flight simulator for Air Force pilots training to fly a twin-engine training aircraft.
McGregor, a command pilot who’s flown more than 11,200 hours in various aircraft, said he was “impressed with the facilities at the air base.” One asset the reserve station has is positive community relations and support, he added.
McGregor said he will be available to any military personnel who seek him out. He also hopes the community will continue its support of the facility, which employs about 1,490 reservists and 250 civilians.
Also set up was a retirement ceremony to honor Thomson for his contributions to the air station. His wife, Cheryl, was recognized for supporting her husband’s career.
An Air Force career
During Thomson’s tenure, the station saw the largest deployment in the 910th’s history. A few months ago, groundbreaking for the first phase of a $34.5 million lodging project on the base took place.
His voice choked with emotion at times, Thomson reminisced about his career and thanked his family and the community for their support. Earlier, Thomson took his traditional last flight over Pymatuning Lake as well as Lake Erie and parts of the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.
For his part, McGregor said he looks forward to dealing with challenges the base will face and continuing to work largely in the same vein as his predecessor. He touted the camaraderie among Air Force personnel and recommended it as an ideal career for those contemplating joining the military.
“I intended to join the Air Force for four years, but stayed,” he said. “It’s truly a family.”
The two ceremonies also included remarks by Maj. Gen. Martin Mazick, commander of the 22nd Air Force, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., a flag-folding ceremony and Thomson’s receiving a retirement certificate as well as a certificate of appreciation.