Change of command season brings new faces to Tinker

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  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The summer months of 2021 brought a whirlwind of changes of command to Tinker Air Force Base.

76th Aircraft Maintenance Group

On July 14, the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group welcomed Col. Daniel Lockert as commander, succeeding Col. Greg Lowe

“I am grateful and humbled for the opportunity to command and blessed that it be with one of the Air Force’s crown jewels,” Lockert said as he took command of the group. “This depot, and in particular this group, is an essential part of a power projection machine. The airpower this group generates helps protect this nation and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this organization.”

Upon exiting, Lowe showcased his appreciation to fellow group commanders across the base. “Thank you for your partnership and teamwork over the last two years,” he said. “I’ve never been in a more collaborative environment.”

Lowe transitions into a new venture as commander of the ROTC Detachment 875 at Virginia Tech, his alma mater.

72nd Medical Group

 In a July 15 ceremony, Col. Neil Horner took command of the 72nd Medical Group, replacing Col. Jennifer Trinkle.

Following his stint at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as the commander of the 88th Diagnostic and Therapeutic Squadron, Horner’s return to the 72nd MDG is a homecoming. He served in the 72nd MDG as the Ophthalmic Services Flight commander and the Biomedical Sciences Corps executive from 2010 to 2015.

“When I found out I was selected for the 72nd Medical Group commander couldn’t believe how lucky I was,” he said. “To come to a group performing at the level of this one is amazing.”

It goes without saying that the 72nd Medical Group faced many challenges during Trinkle’s time in command. “We set the pace and the guidelines that others follow,” Trinkle said in regard to the group’s achievements and resilience during the challenging times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Warrior medics, you are my heroes your dedication and commitment has humbled me,” Trinkle told her troops as she relinquished command. “Keep being a family, keep making changes and keep caring for our Airmen.”

76th Commodities Maintenance Group

Col. Richard D. Boatman assumed command of the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group on July 16. He replaces Col. Matthew Lewin, who is retiring after a 24-year Air Force career.

Boatman arrives at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex group from serving at the Pentagon as the military advisor to the deputy director of Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Boatman said it is an absolute necessity for the maintenance group to rise to the challenges it’s facing following a year of reduced funding and the coronavirus pandemic.

“Right now we need clear eyed about what is in front of us,” he said to the Airmen of the 76th CMXG. “I stand ready to remove barriers that stand in the way to your success.”

72nd Mission Support Group

Twenty-two years after he began his first assignment at Tinker as a second lieutenant, Col. John P. Cappella Zielinski has returned. The colonel took command of the 72nd Mission Support Group during a July 19 ceremony, replacing Col. Linda M. Hoover.

“Returning to Tinker is coming full circle for me,” Cappella Zielinski said. “I’m excited to rejoin such a diverse team of mission partners.”

The 72nd MSG not only supports the 72nd Air Base Wing, it also provides support for the Air Force Sustainment Center, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, 448th Supply Chain Management Wing, 552nd Air Control Wing and Strategic Communications Wing ONE.

“To the [Force Support Squadron] Jedis, the world’s greatest [Logistics Readiness Squadron] and the Security Forces Roughnecks, you have been my family, my teachers and my heroes,” Hoover said. “At the onset of COVID, no one really knew the level of precautions we would need to take, how fatal this disease was or how long the pandemic was going to go on, but since day one the men and women of the 72nd Mission Support Group armed up and took their posts. They cared for the children of our Airmen and they sent warriors out the door to continue to support our national interests. They came up with innovative ways to continue to do our mission.”

38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group

Col. Heather Uhl took command of the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group during a July 21 ceremony. She replaces Col. James Trachier, who led the group since May 2019.

“I am truly honored and humbled by the incredible opportunity I’ve been given,” Uhl said. “I’m grateful for my mentors who have prepared me for today and I look forward to continuing their legacy to my commitment to one of the Air Force’s premier organizations.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Trachier led the effort to increase the number of connections available to teleworking Airmen from 16,000 to more than 400,000.

“This last year has brought more than its share of obstacles and challenges,” Trachier said. “But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the last two years as commander, it’s that the Airmen of this organization really can go anywhere, they really can do anything and they really do solve problems that no one else can.”

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Oklahoma City

Col. Jason Kalin took command of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Oklahoma City during an Aug. 13 ceremony. He succeeds Col. James Malec, who has led the unit since June 2017.

Kalin, who previously served as the deputy commander of the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Wing, said he was humbled and honored to be taking command of the organization.

“I’m excited and anxious to get started. I am thrilled to lead this organization and serve by your side,” he said to the men and women of DLA Aviation. “I promise you my best efforts every day.”

Malec said before coming to Tinker four years ago, he was slated to go to DLA headquarters in Washington, D.C., but was diverted here.

“I think Oklahoma has been the best assignment. I like to say it’s the best for last,” said Malec, who retired from the Air Force after a 28-year career. “Thank you for the last four years. Jason, you’ve got a hell of a team and ladies and gentlemen of DLA, you’ve got a hell of a leader coming in.”

Air Force Flight Standards Agency

Col. Rudolf Kuehne Jr. took command of the Air Force Flight Standards Agency during a June 30, 2021, ceremony. He replaces Col. David Woodley as commander of the unit that serves as the Air Force’s single point of contact for matters dealing with flight standards and air traffic control.

Kuehne previously served as the chief of the Operations Support Division for Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. He led a division that was the focal point for all air traffic control, airfield management, airspace access, terminal instrument approach, aircrew standardization and evaluations and weather operations and policy throughout Europe and Africa.