Dickerson becomes new AMXS commander

  • Published
  • By A1C Harrison Withrow
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing

Maj. Matthew Dickerson assumed command of the 434th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron in a ceremony held at Grissom Air Reserve Base, October 4, 2020.

The change of command ceremony is rooted in military history dating back to the 18th century, during the reign of Frederick the Great of Prussia. At that time, organizational flags were developed with colors and symbols unique to each military unit. To this flag and its commander, the soldiers of the unit would dedicate their loyalty and trust.

When the change of command takes place, the flag is passed to the individual assuming command. This gesture is accomplished in front of the unit so that all may see their new leader assuming their dutiful position. He or she who holds the flag, also holds the soldiers’ allegiance. This symbolic tradition has survived throughout military history.

The outgoing commander, Lt. Col. John Valdes, praised his successor and expressed his confidence in a speech to the 434th AMXS.

“I rest easy today as I place leadership of the squadron in the capable hands of Maj. Dickerson,” said Valdes. “He absolutely has a track record of excellence, and he’s focused on taking care of his people and executing the mission.

“I know he’ll continue this, and I’ll be jealous as I watch from across the street all the amazing things that he continues to do,” he added.

Dickerson began his role as commander by speaking on what sort of commander he aims to be.

“I believe that if you treat someone with dignity and respect, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish together,” he said. “Building relationships is paramount.”

Dickerson continued by praising Grissom’s maintainers, as well as all enlisted Airmen.

“I believe that there is no one better at the art of aircraft maintenance than the people in this room,” he said. “I’ve seen it time and again, both here at home station and in the AoR (Area of Responsibility).

“I believe that the sun rises and falls in our Air Force because of our enlisted force,” he added. “You are the keepers of decades of expertise, the hands on grit and grind, and the true heartbeat of our country’s defense systems and organizations.”

Dickerson closed by making a promise to all of the Airmen now under his command.

“I believe that it is my job to make your lives easier,” he said. “It’s simple: the more knowledge you have, the less stress you experience both here and at home, and the more you feel valued, the better you will perform when our country needs you most.”

The 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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