109th Airlift Wing names first female commander

October 16, 2017 12:19 AM

SCOTIA - The 109th airlift wing of Stratton Air National Guard Base has named its first female commander. 

“I've been in the Air Force for 25 years so it's exciting to assume command of the wing with the heritage like this one,” Colonel Michele Kilgore said. 

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Kilgore’s Air Force experience includes a previous post as a commander in Syracuse and over 3,500 hours of flying military aircrafts.

“I've flown the KC-10A, the C-12F/J, the EA-6B, the F-16C+, the MQ-9 and now the C-130,” Kilgore said. 

Outgoing 109th commander, Colonel Shawn Clouthier handed over the reins at a change-of-command ceremony Sunday.

“To me it's not a gender thing. It's the ability the knowledge and the ability and she brings all of that,” Clouthier said.

As the first person in heels to lead the Scotia air base, Kilgore is in charge of the nearly 12-hundred airmen and women who primarily support military and national science foundation operations in the Arctic and Antarctica. 

The base is home to the only ski-equipped LC -130 aircrafts in the world. 

Kilgore will be flying the aircrafts along with the other men and women of the 109th to the Polar Regions.

The Watertown native said serving her country is in her blood. 

“My grandfather was in the Navy, has a purple heart. My Dad is a F-4 pilot in Vietnam, has a purple heart,” Kilgore said. “And then there's me so I knew I always wanted to fly.”

She even married a pilot.

Colonel Robert Kilgore is the commander of the 107th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls.

Kilgore and her husband are the first husband and wife commanders in the New York's Air National Guard. 

“She is an outstanding commander and she knows how to take care of airmen and that's really the most important part of what we do in our jobs,” Robert Kilgore said. 

“It's not really about me it’s about the mission,” Kilgore said. 

Kilgore previously served as commander at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse. 

She is also only the second female wing commander in the New York Air National Guard.


WNYT Staff

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