434th Mission Support Group welcomes Wiltse as new leader

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Courtney Dotson-Essett
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

Col. Gretchen Wiltse assumed command of the 434th Mission Support Group during a ceremony here, July. 9, marking her first unit training assembly as the unit’s new commander.

Wiltse proudly accepted the group’s guidon from Col. Scott Russell, who led the group since 2014.

The passing of the guidon is a long-held tradition signifying the transfer of leadership from one commander to the next. 

“MSG-please take note of your new commander,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “You are gaining another fantastic leader.”

Wiltse is the previous commander of the 434th Maintenance Group, where she was well-known for making the rounds and getting to the know the members of her unit.

 “I selected Col. Wiltse because of her experience, her knowledge and her leadership," said Shaw.  "She is well-known within the Air Force Reserve Command for mission support. She is well-respected and I am excited to have her lead the Mission Support Group."

MSG is comprised of five squadrons and two flights. The group is the parent organization for units such as the 49th Aerial Port Flight, 434th Force Support Squadron and 434th Security Forces Squadron.

One of Wiltse’s goals is to help each squadron figure out resource constraints, how to fill them and market those resources to keep the 434th MSG performing at a high level.

“Part of my job is to help them be resourced so they can be the best that they can be. Sometimes that could be just knocking down a barrier,” Wiltse said.

Although her location has changed, her mission remains the same--helping and leading Airmen.

Familiarizing names and faces in a group as large as mission support, however, will be a little more challenging.

“When you say ‘charge’ in maintenance, everyone goes running in the same direction, they’re going to all go for the airplane,” said Wiltse. 

“In mission support, you say ‘charge’ and they scatter like cats. Security forces is very different than civil engineer or aerial port. It’s really fun to be able to go out to see them at work and the Airmen getting energized about doing their jobs. And when I get to play along, I get to do fun stuff too.”

The 434th MSG is part of the 434th ARW, the largest KC-135R unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Airmen and aircraft from the 434th ARW routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission and U.S. strategic objectives.

Stay connected with the 434th ARW on Facebook and Twitter.