Grissom vice commander completes farewell flight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chris Massey
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

In a flash and dash of fire bottles, squirt guns, adult beverages and laughter, Grissom said goodbye to its vice commander.

Col. Anne Noel landed at Grissom Air Reserve Base in a 434th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker for the last time, during her “fini” flight Aug. 12.

A “fini” flight is a military aviation tradition that marks the end of a pilot’s or commander’s time at a location or command.

This was not only Noel’s final flight at Grissom, but also her final flight in the KC-135.

"Besides my wife Kris, Anne is one of the kindest people I know," said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. "She is an unbelievable leader, mentor and teammate."

"She has been an influence to women both in military and in the civilian sector," Shaw added.  "I’m lucky enough to have seen her interact with young girls who see her in a flight suit and want to know more about her and the Air Force."

Noel was selected to be the next commander of the 954th Reserve Support Squadron, an Air Force Element of the Joint Transportation Reserve Unit at the United States Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. She will simultaneously serve as the chief of the USTRANSCOM Deployment and Distribution Operations Center.

“It will be exciting to learn how each component works together to get the mission accomplished,” said Noel.

The JTRU’s mission is to augment USTRANSCOM in providing air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense. Noel will have the opportunity to work alongside the Army, Navy and Coast Guard.

When asked what her favorite part about her more than 15 years at the Hoosier Wing, Noel’s response was, “hands-down, the people.”

“Grissom has been a part of our family for many years,” explained Noel. “Perhaps it was the first time I drove to Grissom and saw the beautiful cornfields surrounding it; it reminded me of my home in Nebraska. It always felt like home to me.”

Adding to that beautiful countryside, the people at Grissom were among the most influential throughout her journey.

“I have been truly blessed, blessed for all the current and former members that have supported me every step of the way,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for all of the amazing members that helped me.”

Noel expressed great gratitude towards individuals who had helped shape her career here at Grissom, specifically thanking Shaw for his support.

“I cannot take credit for any accomplishments during my time here because that goes to the members and especially Col. Larry Shaw,” said Noel. “He has been the best leader. If it wasn’t for him, his encouragement and mentorship, I would not be taking this next step.”

Noel challenged members of the Hoosier Wing to continue learning and growing from what she described as the best leaders a wing could have.

“Taking care of one another and supporting each other is what it is all about; serving one another, with a caring and humble heart, is what I believe we are all called to do,” she said. “Grissom is a special place and my hope is that I’ll be able to come back and visit often.  To the current and former members of Grissom, thank you for everything you have done for Moe and I over the decades.”

434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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