FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Air Force’s 368th Training Squadron here held a change-of-command ceremony Monday in the U.S. Army Engineer Regimental Room at the John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex, where Lt. Col. Allen Branco relinquished command to Lt. Col. Ben Carlson.
Air Force Col. Daniel Lemon, 782nd Training Group commander at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas — the unit that oversees the 368th TRS here — officiated the ceremony and called training and inspiring the next generation of service members, “the most important thing we can do.”
“We all can leave a positive legacy by educating the next generation of leaders, who will defend our great nation when many of us leave the ranks and our respective services,” he said.
Lemon thanked Branco for his two years in command here, calling his leadership style “infectious.”
“He raises standards, builds teams, and mentors and develops personnel,” Lemon said.
Branco — who moves on to the National Capital Region, where he will assume the role of 11th Mission Support Group deputy commander at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling — was instrumental in ensuring the squadron’s training mission continued through the pandemic, Lemon added.
“Thank you for keeping the student pipeline open,” Lemon said.
To the members of the 368th, Branco said it’s been “an honor to serve alongside you in the finest training organization in the United States Air Force.”
“You are committed to building logistics and civil engineer Airmen, and engineer and chemical Marines, Soldiers and Sailors, too,” he said. “You work hard to develop yourselves as leaders and experts in your craft. You cultivate an environment, where our Airmen are inspired by you to learn their occupational specialty. You develop Airmen, who strive for qualities like integrity, service before self and a drive for excellence. You take care of our team — military, civilians, contractor partners and our families — because each team member plays a critical role in training the world’s best Airmen. You do your jobs with enthusiasm, with professionalism, with skill and with a positive attitude. Most critically, you teach our Airmen the skills they will need to succeed in garrison and to dominate in combat. I will miss very much being part of your team.”
Branco also welcomed Carlson to the squadron.
“I know this unit is in the most capable of hands with you in command,” he said.
The role of commander is entrusted to those with proven competence and character, Lemon said, and Carlson is the right person to take the reins at the 368th.
“(Carlson) understands what is required to accomplish the (Department of Defense) mission — that it’s not just about technical skills; it’s character development and building resilient Airmen, who can withstand adversity,” Lemon said. “We have all the trust and confidence in you.”
Carlson comes to Fort Leonard Wood from Kuwait, where he commanded the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron at Ali Al Salem Air Base. He said he has some big shoes to fill in replacing Branco.
“I welcome this challenge and the expectations of my command team,” he said. “The mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses and children of these Airmen have entrusted us with their loved ones — entrusted us to nurture and grow this next generation of Airmen and ensure they leave here better than they came. I am honored to be charged with this task and can think of no better command, no better way to impact the future of our engineer and logistics enterprises.”
More photos from the ceremony are available on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page.