Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

August 4, 2011 at 1:21pm

Air base group under JBLM conducts command change

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine Colonels Valerie Hasberry and Kenny Weldon listen as Maj. Gen. William Bender speaks during the 627th ABG change of command ceremony at McChord Field.

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A historic milestone in the young Joint Base Lewis-McChord's history took place Tuesday when Col. Jerry K. (Kenny) Weldon II relinquished the 627th Air Base Group colors and title of "commander" to Col. Valerie L. Hasberry at Hangar 7 on McChord Field.

It was the first change of command for the unit charged with maintaining the Air Force structure for organizing, training and equipping Airmen to deploy, while providing installation support to more than 4,000 facilities and nearly 120,000 servicemembers, Family members, civilians and retirees connected to JBLM.

The group consists of the 627th Force Support, Civil Engineer, Communications, Logistics Readiness and Security Forces squadrons, and Air Force chaplains, totaling about 1,000 Airmen. The 627th ABG commander is also the deputy commander of JBLM Garrison, overseeing the administrative and logistical functions associated with the joint base.

The change of command ceremony is a centuries-old military event for U.S forces. Presiding over the event was U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Commander Maj. Gen. William J. Bender.

Having a unit that provides combat support to the 62nd Airlift Wing while conductiong garrison support is unique to any military base or organization, Bender said. He characterized Weldon's command leadership of the 627th ABG as "tremendously successful" during what has been a formative time for the joint base.

"The record of performance they have achieved and the goals they have met under his leadership have been nothing short of phenomenal," Bender said. "Standing up a joint base is no small feat, but readiness has been the air base group's rallying call throughout his time as commander."

Weldon took command at the same time the unit's name switched from the 62nd Mission Support Group in September 2010. The name change came because of the unit's reorganization, to conform to the Department of Defense's joint-basing architecture. Lewis-McChord is one of 12 DOD joint bases in the nation.

Prior to Weldon's assuming duties as the commander and deputy commander, he served on the DOD staff managing the effort to create those 12 joint bases.

"I've seen many decisions reached by military services to make sure that joint bases are postured for success, with landmark agreements to define common standards and establish the parameter of transparency," Weldon said. "Joint basing is focused and forced us to challenge our assumptions, to find other ways to sustain military structure and readiness."

Weldon retired Tuesday also, receiving a Legion of Merit award and an American flag folded by Airmen representing each of the ranks Weldon has worn during his 26 years in the Air Force.

Hasberry's military resume sounds tailored for command in a joint environment. She recently graduated from the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., and has has held several base, major command and Air Force staff level positions, including command of a civil engineer squadron. (See "Biography" sidebar.)

"Her resume ... includes an impressive string of assignments and experiences that I believe make her the perfect choice to follow Col. Weldon into this command," Bender said about Hasberry. "She has extensive experience across the entire spectrum of installation support and operations and has held key leadership and supervisory positions that I know would prove instrumental in the challenges that the joint base continue to face."

Bender noted that Hasberry has "tall" shoes to fill, as Weldon is easily a foot taller than she. But she said she is ready for the challenge of taking the 627th ABG and the joint base to new heights.

"You have my personal commitment that I will lead this group to the best of my abilities and in the fine tradition that started with Col. Weldon in the Air Mobility Command's tradition of excellence," Hasberry said. "I promise you my best efforts every single day to ensure that we ensure that record of excellence."

Weldon, his wife and two children depart for retirement to Stephenville, Texas.

The Col. Valerie L. Hasberry file

Colonel Valerie L. Hasberry graduated from the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. in June 2011. Previously she was chief, Capabilities Integration Branch, Joint Requirements Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense for the Joint Staff. She led a team of 21 analysts in coordinating CBRN Defense operations and in executing joint and multi-service training programs throughout DOD.

Hasberry entered the Air Force in June 1989 as a graduate of the ROTC at the University of Alabama. She has extensive background in environmental program development and management, and experience in design and construction management. She has held several base, major command and Air Staff level positions: command of a civil engineer squadron, chief of environmental planning, an environmental program manager, a military construction program manager, chief of a technical services division, chief of an operations flight and chief of planning and basing branch.

She has won a number of environmental and civil engineering awards. A Bronze Star, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal with silver oak leaf cluster are among the military awards she has earned.

Her bachelor's degree is in electrical engineering and she holds three master's: in management from Webster University, St. Louis. Mo.; in military studies from Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Va.; and in strategic studies from the Army War College.

She has been assigned at the Pentagon and Falcon, Scott, Hickam and Davis-Monthan Air Force bases in the states, as well as Spangdahlem, Germany, and Anderson AFB, Guam.

Hasberry is married to Marc Hasberry of Birmingham, Ala. They have a daughter, Taylor, and a son, Nikolas.

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