185th Change of Command

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kevin Heineman, PAO
The 185th Air Refueling Wing held a Change-of-Command ceremony at the base on August 4, 2007. Colonel John Janson retired after 31 years of military service, and relinquished command of the 185th to Lt. Col. Brian Miller, a lifelong resident of Sioux City, Iowa who has been with the unit for over 27 years.

Miller began his career with the 185th in 1980 as an aircraft mechanic. In 1985, Miller was selected for pilot training and flew the 185th's A-7 Corsair II jet fighter, F-16 jet fighter, and currently the KC-135 tanker. Miller's son Thad is also currently a member of the 185th as a member of the Security Forces.

Miller assumed command of the 185th from Janson, who was the commander of the 185th for the past 6 1/2 years. Janson is retiring after 31 years of military service. Janson headed the unit through the conversion process from single seat fighter jets to the KC-135 tankers.

"During his tenure, we went from flying F-16's to the tankers," said Miller. "He had to oversee all the construction that went with the conversion. And as soon as that's over, the war on terror breaks out. I just can't imagine a more challenging situation. We're fortunate to have had him during that time."

On hand for the ceremony was past 185th member, and current Adjutant General of Iowa, Major General Ron Dardis. Dardis lauded the performance of the unit through the last few years under Janson's command as a unit that performed very well during several inspections. "The 185th has met and overwhelmingly exceeded nearly every standard for a United States Air Force unit," said Dardis. Dardis was speaking in reference to how well the unit performed on the recent Aircrew Standardization and Evaluation Visit (ASEV), and the overall excellent rating the unit received during the most recent Operation Readiness Inspection (ORI). The ORI was the first the unit underwent since the conversion to tankers, and the first formal Inspector General (IG) inspection in twelve years for the 185th.

In outlining Janson's time the 185th,s commander, Dardis touted the Iowa National Guard as being one of the top in the country in the fight of the war on terror. "The Iowa Guard is the best for one simple reason, the men and women that fill its ranks," said Dardis. "The best national guard (Iowa) in the country hands down."

With his roots deeply tied to the Siouxland area, Miller believes the Siouxland community as a whole is what will keep the unit strong in the future. Miller said the 185th, which had a $40 million payroll last year, has been part of the community since its formation in 1946. "We want to continue to be a community-based unit," Miller said. "Unlike the Air Force which recruits nationwide, we get all of our people from right here in Siouxland. We greatly appreciate the employers in the community. If they didn't allow their employees time off, we couldn't be the great unit we are."

Miller said the unit has a bright future ahead of it but he believes the members of the 185th are ready for any challenge or task that presents itself. Speaking about the future, Miller said, "In short, we are going to continue doing all these great things we have been doing the past years. Be it tomorrow or five years from now, history will come and knock on our door again, it will change everything we thought we were going to do. The road will take another 90 degree turn, and as always we will rise to that occasion as Citizen soldiers always do."

Success for the 185th depends on the members of the unit, said Miller. "I sincerely believe our future is our people," says Miller. "We'll continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest people in Siouxland. Great people can do anything."

The change of command is a military tradition deeply rooted in history. Military organizations developed unique flags to signify the position of their leader. In the confusion of battle, their standard provided a guide for all to follow. Over time, these banners came to mean much more. They embodied the history of the organization, the dignity of command, and its for victory. They were jealously and heroically guarded. Having this position of great importance, the flag was incorporated into the change of command ceremonies. The banner was exchanged in public to symbolize that the ultimate responsibility that comes with command had been passed to a new leader. For the 185th, the change of command ceremony marked the turning of page in the units history book, from one accomplished and dedicated leader, to another.

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