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Colonel promotions mark date in history

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  • By SSgt Jessica Cauvel
In two ceremonies on July 12, the 179th Airlift Wing made history by promoting four members to the rank of colonel in a single day.

The rank of colonel is the highest attainable at the 179th. To advance beyond this rank to become a general, one must pursue a position at another base or a state headquarters unit.

The first two members who received the promotion over the July UTA were Col. Daniel B. Clark and Col. Eric D. Ostrem both of the Medical Squadron. These promotions were followed by an afternoon ceremony in the Aircrew Briefing Room to honor the promotions of Col. Gary A. McCue and Col. Michael J. Howard.

At the afternoon ceremony, Senior Master Sgt. Daniel E. Peters, Master of Ceremonies, expressed how proud the 179th Airlift Wing was to be able to welcome four members into the rank of colonel in a single day.

Col. Mark L. Stephens, Base Commander, spoke at the ceremony of the first men in US history to attain the rank of colonel during the Revolutionary War. He noted, "These men were respected men who had ties to the local community."

They had to raise funds to buy their commissions, he noted. To obtain these funds they had to earn the trust and support of their communities.

In the same respect, Stephens said the men at the 179th who were being promoted were respectable men who were an asset to the community and to the 179th Airlift Wing.
"I want to thank all the families for all of their support," Stephens added.

"It's hard to get anywhere without support," Howard added. He noted his family has been there for him and their support has been essential to his success.

In speaking of his new fellow colonel, McCue said, "Mike and I have been in competition for a long time."

"We were at ACSC (Air Command and Staff College) together," Howard said. "I couldn't ask for more than to be up here with McCue."

Howard also helped to make history by becoming the first African American to obtain the rank of colonel at the 179th Airlift Wing.
"I don't really care that I am the first," Howard said. "I hope I am around to see the fourth and fifth people reach this point also. I want people to see that it can be done and follow my lead."