Taking command coast to coast

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Morgan L. Brown
  • 940th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Distance knows no bounds, as was exemplified by Col. Xaviera “Xavi” Slocum, Col. Jacquelyn L. “Katniss” Marty and their guests during a virtual change of command July 11, 2020.

The ceremony was streamed from four locations around the United States and viewed by more than 130 people from across the nation.

The tradition of transferring authority and responsibility from one commander to another is an important piece of military heritage. However, due to current social distancing protocols from the Center of Disease Control on COVID-19, the ceremony could not be conducted in person.

With nearly 3,000 miles between them, Marty, from Beale Air Force Base, relinquished command of the 713th Combat Operations Squadron to Slocum, at Langley AFB, Virginia.

“While we are unable to congregate in person, this venue provides an opportunity for friends and family to be here with us virtually who otherwise might not have been able to participate,” said Marty.

Col. Michael A. Thomas, 610th Air Operations Group commander presided over the ceremony from March Air Reserve Base, California.

 Thomas said, “Xavi is the right person and this is the right time for her to take command of the 713th and expand on what Katniss has accomplished.”

Family, friends and Airmen of the 713 COS, at its three geographically separated locations, Beale AFB, Shaw AFB, South Carolina and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, attended the ceremony.

The event was pulled together by resilient and flexible total force members from the 713 COS and the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale AFB, honoring military traditions while following current health protocols.

With social distancing in place, Slocum greeted Airmen of the 713 COS virtually as their new commander.

“To the warrior Airmen of the 713 COS, it is in our DNA to overcome adversity and to be ready to provide support during these times of instability,” said Slocum. “I am excited to join your team and serve you as your new commander.”

Marty also spoke to the unit she had been with for the past two years and greeted Slocum.

“I am humbled and forever grateful for having had the privilege of serving with you,” said Marty. “I look forward to hearing about the unit’s future success under the leadership of Col. Slocum. Welcome to our ohana.”