94th Airlift Wing welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lauren Douglas
  • 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. -- Col. Carl Magnusson relinquished command of the 94th Airlift Wing to Col. Michael Parks during the change of command ceremony here August 5, 2023.

Airmen from the wing stood in formation to witness Parks assume command. The change of command ceremony is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility within a unit.

“The primary purpose of a change of command ceremony is to allow subordinates to witness the formality of command change from one officer to another,” according to Air Force Instructions. “The ceremony should be official, formal, brief and conducted with great dignity.”

Brig. Gen. Melissa Coburn, 22nd Air Force Commander, presided over the ceremony and delivered remarks commending the outgoing and incoming commanders. She praised the phenomenal job that Magnusson did during his time at Dobbins, leading 2,000 94th Airlift Wing Airmen and 13 tenant partners during the challenges of a pandemic and bringing the 94th AW back to its roots with his spirited incorporation of the historic Square A.

The Square A is an aircraft insignia displayed as a black square with a bold white letter “A” on the tail to identify the aircraft’s unit. It was first used by the 94th Bombardment Group, from which the 94th AW gets its origins, during WWII.

“[Magnusson] oversaw the upgrade of all eight of his C-130H aircraft to the newer and safer eight-bladed props,” said Coburn. “Because of this upgrade, when the entire C-130H fleet was grounded, the 94th AW was minimally affected.” Coburn went on to explain the Magnusson took the opportunity to loan his upgraded aircraft out to other units in need so that those wings and Airmen could maintain readiness and deploy on time. Coburn continued by praising Magnusson’s servant-style leadership and selflessness in guidance of his Airmen during his time as commander.

Neal VanMarter, Military and Veteran Services Representative for the Office of U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, presented Magnusson with a congressional commendation before Magnusson shared his remarks.

“Thank you to those on the front end of my tour,” Magnusson began. “There are 2,000 people that I would like to thank by name but I can’t, so I’m going to pick out some of the people who took great risk to bring the Square A to life.” Magnusson has been adamant about reinvigorating the significance and historical importance of the Square A and leaves his mark at the wing with many new references to the aircraft insignia. Magnusson rendered a heartfelt message of appreciation to his family for their sacrifices and continued support throughout his Air Force career.

Magnusson continued with a welcome message to Parks as he prepared to accept command. “There is no one in this Air Force that I would rather pass this unit to than my good friend, Col. Michael Parks.”

At approximately 10:20 a.m., the hangar full of Airmen, friends, family and distinguished guests were called to their feet to witness the passing of the wing’s guidon from Magnusson to Parks, the new commander.  

“To the Airmen in formation, an event of this magnitude comes at a personal cost,” said Parks. “Thank you for honoring the three of us on this stage with your professionalism.”

Parks shared an inspiring message to motivate Dobbins’ Airmen and express his intentional leadership and expectations. “Our greatest resource is standing in front of the C-130 [behind you], the heroic sons and daughters of our nation who proudly serve and steadfastly defend our freedoms. I promise to each one of you that I will give all that I have because that is what you deserve and nothing less.”  

Parks also gave a word of appreciation to his wife, Allison, their children and others in attendance for their commitment and trust in him as he begins a new journey at Dobbins.

“I would not be here if it were not for you. Thank you for supporting your most needy Airman - me,” Parks said to his friends and family before turning his remarks back to the crowd. “I look forward to writing the next chapter in the big Square A’s history alongside you. Shoulder to shoulder.  Side by side.”