WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Holding back tears, Col. John Devillier delivered his final remarks as the leader of the 88 Air Base Wing of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during a change of command ceremony.
He recognized his family, the airmen who make up the 88 Air Base Wing, those who made the ceremony come together and WPAFB’s neighbors.
“The reason Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is ranked the number one community and number one Air Force base to be stationed at in the Air Force Times is because of the wonderful relationships we have with the community,” Devillier said. “You cannot have two airman from WPAFB rubbing sticks together without someone from the community cheering them on. In my 23 years in the United States Air Force, I’ve never been anywhere with such a great relationship with the community.”
Devillier has lead the 88 Air Base Wing since July 17, 2014. He has received a number of awards and recognition under that capacity, as well as within his Air Force career as a whole. Awards under his belt (and decorations pinned to his uniform) include the Air Force Personnel Manager of the Year, NATO Defense Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, top graduate from the Naval Postgraduate School, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in command of the 88 Air Base Wing, among others.
“You never know who will be the most important person in the United States Air Force on any given day. I could go on and on about the great airman who make this instillation work … Each of them may be that most important person in the United States Air Force,” Devillier said. “My job is simply to facilitate and provide you the resources and environment to be that most important airman; my job is to lead by example and treat others with dignity, honor and respect.”
Devillier’s newest decoration includes the Legion of Merit, which was presented to him by Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at WPAFB, during the change of command ceremony.
“He has been a great commander for this instillation and perhaps more importantly — he’s been a great commander to the men and women in this organization,” Thompson said. “I hope all of you have taken something away from how great of a leader he is.”
And now Devillier is on his way to his next adventure — serving as the special assistant to the director of the joint chiefs of staff for general officer matters at the Pentagon. He ceased his leadership position at WPAFB Tuesday, June 21 during the ceremony, handing the reins over to Col. Bradley McDonald.
“I’m humbled, honored and excited for the opportunity to lead the great men and women of the mighty 88 (88 Air Base Wing),” McDonald said. “It’s a privilege to command at any level and particularly a privilege to command an outstanding unit in the United States Air Force.”
McDonald, an Idaho native, brings WPAFB the immediate leadership experience he gained from formerly serving as the vice commander of the 10 Air Base Wing at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. Since graduating the United States Air Force Academy in 1994 and joining the Air Force, he’s held a number of other positions, ranging from a speechwriter, command budget analyst, congressional budget and appropriations liaison and commander, among others in varying capacities.
First on the agenda in his new position is taking care of those who make up the WPAFB community.
“Our first line of business is to provide support to the many people who are in the instillation,” McDonald said. “There are over 27,000 individuals here daily and we want to make sure we are providing a safe and secure environment for them — that’s our initial focus, and providing great partnerships with the community.”
He was joined at the ceremony by his wife of nearly 20 years, as well as his three children and extended family members.
“I reluctantly give up the [commander position], but [Col. McDonald and family] — you are going to lead a wonderful group of airman,” Devillier said. “Take care of them and they will take care [of you]. Give them that authority to perhaps be that most important airman in the United States Air Force. To the men and women of the 88 Air Base Wing, Team Wright-Patterson and men and woman of the Miami Valley, thank you for what you do.”
Whitney Vickers can be reached by calling her directly at 937-502-4532.