WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — As Col. Thomas Sherman prepares to hand off command of the 88th Air Base Wing of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the cornerstone of his experience there has been the cooperation and care of the surrounding community.
Sherman held a press roundtable Wednesday to reflect on his service in the Miami Valley, and how those experiences will affect the base going forward.
During his time as commander, Sherman has led Wright-Patterson through several pivotal events, including the active shooter situation at the medical center two years ago, up to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We collectively, not only in the Miami Valley but in the state of Ohio, learned a great deal. We learned what mutual support looks like, how mutual aid can be organized, and how our ability to communicate throughout the state then became a very important template that we shared with the Air Force,” he said.
As the Air Force navigates the current COVID-19 crisis, Wright-Patterson has begun phase one of re-opening to its workers.
“It’s almost a daily analysis that we’re going through. We’re in discussion right now as to when would be a good time to transition to phase two,” Sherman said.
The colonel is confident that significant groundwork has been laid for a smooth transition of command. Since 2018, one of the goals of his command has been to enhance the infrastructure of the base and bolster the identity of its officers.
“We are the caretakers of the installation,” he said. “What can we affect now, and what are things that we can put in place for the future, things that I may not see until I retire?”
Sherman’s next workplace will likely be the Pentagon, as he takes on the role of advisor to the deputy secretary of defense. Given the events and challenges of the past two years at Wright-Patterson, the lessons learned in the Miami Valley may be of great value to the country on a larger scale, he explained.
“So much of what we’ve learned here, from COVID-19, from major efforts that we’ve undertaken, from community partnerships, a lot of these major strategic areas that we’ve been deliberately looking into, those experiences are going to be very important as the deputy secretary is going to be working issues that transcend across the Department of Defense,” Sherman said. “That experience, coupled with my experiences from previous assignments, I hope will make my job and the work that I’m doing, and the advice I’m able to give very valuable to the DoD as it affects other installations.”
Sherman will officially transfer command of the 88th Air Base Wing to Col. Patrick Miller Friday, June 12, in a ceremony that will be live-streamed on Facebook at 10 a.m.