SIOUX CITY, Iowa --
Colonel Sonya L. Morrison was passed the guidon, a flag representing a unit and its history, marking her as the commander of the 185th Air Refueling Wing during a change of command ceremony at the 185th Air Refueling Wing, August 6, 2022, in Sioux City, Iowa.
Airmen of the 185th, friends, family and distinguished guests all gathered for the ceremony in an aircraft hangar that afternoon to listen to Morrison speak on how honored she felt to be the new Wing Commander. Morrison also became the first female commander of the 185th.
"On August 5th, 1993, I swore an oath to serve my country and defend this nation when I enlisted into the Iowa Army National Guard,” said Morrison. “Never could I have imagined nearly 30 years later that I would someday be given this great responsibility.”
Morrison hails from Osceola, Iowa, where she enlisted with the Iowa National Guard 34th Army Field Band in Fairfield. She received her commission through the ROTC while attending the University of Northern Iowa. Morrison became a helicopter pilot with 1-113th Cavalry of Waterloo, Iowa.
In 2005 Morrison switched to the Iowa Air National Guard and was then selected to fly the KC-135 Stratotanker with the 185th ARW. During her time with the Air Guard, she also became a MQ-9 Reaper pilot with the 132nd Wing of Des Moines, where she helped the 132nd transition from the F-16 fighter to the MQ-9.
Airmen that have gotten to know Morrison say she is outgoing, often enquiring about Airmen's lives and working to help Airmen with their future goals.
“I need each of you to feel confident in finding your voice as an Airman and your own steps towards becoming a leader in the 185th,” she said. “My mission is to make sure that you’re successful.”
Morrison expressed her gratitude to the Airmen of the 185th ARW.
“The only reason we are so successful is because of the work our Airmen do,” said Morrison.
The 185th was originally formed from the Army Air Corps in 1946 as a squadron, later, it became a group in September, 1962 and finally a wing in May of 1992.
One year later the Combat Exclusion Policy was lifted, allowing women to take on aviation combat roles in the military.
The unit had its first female member in 1963, a nurse, with 2nd Lt. Patricia O’brien. The unit’s first female fighter pilot, retired Brig. Gen. Bobbi Doorenbos, joined in 1997. Doorenbos eventually went on to be the first female wing commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 188th Wing.