GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. --
Multiple topics echoed throughout the new commander’s speech as she addressed the crowd, but what resonated most was her commitment to taking care of people and maintaining the unit’s history of excellence as she assumes her new role.
Col. Gretchen Wiltse assumed command of the 434th Maintenance Group during a ceremony here, Oct. 6, marking her first UTA as the unit’s new commander.
“As we move one commander to his next assignment, we are proud to add another most valuable player to this team,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander who presided over the ceremony. “Col. Wiltse comes to us from Headquarters AFRC and she comes with vast experience.”
In the last three years, the 434th MXG has deployed 441 members, launched 2,837 sorties, participated in multiple exercises, and completed a nuclear operational readiness inspection and capstone inspection all while a third of their group was deployed.
“I charge her now to continue to lead this group with excellence and dedication to its mission and to the safety of its members,” said Shaw. “I have complete confidence in her ability to command the group with distinction, dedication, and determination.”
Sharing that confidence, Wiltse proudly accepted the group’s guidon, a long-held tradition signifying the transfer of leadership from one commander to the next.
“You had a long list of renowned commanders…. And I want to follow in the same footsteps as those commanders,” said Wiltse. “I want to keep our positive and family atmosphere going. The Grissom way is known throughout the command and throughout the globe; I’m super happy to be part of that team.”
Wiltse, who was inspired at a young age to join the Air Force, graduated from the Air Force Academy May 1989. She comes to Grissom from Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, were she served as chief of logistics readiness division.
During her speech, Wiltse encouraged her Airmen to be good to family and respectful to everyone, things she has strived to make priorities in her leadership.
“Be good to the family, we didn’t get here ourselves and we couldn’t continue to be here without their love and support,” she said. “I try to be courteous and respectful to everyone. From the generals to the janitors, they are all important members of our team.”
In addition, Wiltse says that she also wants to be engaged with the Grissom community.
“I’m truly interested in both your professional lives and your personal lives,” she said. “I try to find humor in what we do and try not to take myself too seriously, and I hope you will do the same.”
In her new role, Wiltse stated that she will strive to ensure that her command will positively affect the Airmen under her and the entire organization as a whole.
“I hope to continue to make maintenance a fun place to be,” she said. “I want it to be as successful as it’s been in the past, and I want to recognize people individually and collectively for doing great things.”
The 434th MXG 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.
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