179th Airlift Wing makes history, first female wing commander in Ohio Air Guard

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Story by A1C Megan Shepherd on 02/05/2018
MANSFIELD, Ohio The 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield, Ohio, makes history Feb. 3 as Col. Allison Miller becomes the first female commander of an Ohio Air National Guard unit.

Miller said it is an honor to be the first female commander here and she is looking forward to what we have coming ahead.

"I want to do everything I can to help this wing continue the positive impact that they have in the state of Ohio and the Air National Guard," said Miller.

Miller joins the 179th AW with a breadth of experience.

She joined the Alabama Air National Guard in 1996 and was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science, Knoxville, Tennessee in 1997, earning her commission as a distinguished graduate. Prior to assuming her current position, she served as the Director of Safety for the Air National Guard. She was responsible for managing all ANG Ground, Flight, Weapons, and Space Safety programs for all 90 flying and mission support units encompassing over 105,000 members. Miller was the principal advisor to the Director, ANG and the ANG Readiness Center Commander for all safety issues. Prior to her time at NGB, she served as Chief of Wing Safety for the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the Chief of Scheduling for the 106th Air Refueling Squadron, executing over 1,900 local flying training hours yearly, accomplishing over 22,000 training events, ensuring 80 99th and 106th ARS members maintained their mission ready status. Miller is a KC-135R instructor pilot and also served as the 117th ARW Command Post Officer and the Squadron Flying Safety Officer for the 106th Air Refueling Squadron.

Miller has also completed numerous deployments including operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve and sat Alpha Alert in support of Homeland Defense.

Miller reflected on her military career leading up to taking command of the 179th Airlift Wing and what it all means to her.

"A few days really stand out to me," said Miller. "March 17, 2003, taking off with then Lt. Col. Barry Hill, now Maj. Gen. Barry Hill, flying to the other side of the world for a war that would happen a few days later, leaving behind two babies at that time, who are now 16 and 17. In that moment I realized what it meant to be a part of something bigger than myself."

She also reflected on Dec. 1, 2006, flying her first fallen soldier from Germany on his dignified journey home, and how in that moment she realized the value of human life, and the value of all human life that has been sacrificed so this country can remain free.

While flying over Pakistan on Sept. 13, 2012, on a mission she was certain would end in a fatal mishap after an aircraft malfunction, she realized that our everyday training and our words and actions are very important in every situation.

Miller said she realized what it means to have grace, humility and compassion for every life on this planet while sitting in a dining facility in the mountains of Afghanistan Oct. 25, 2014. The facility was run by Germans and she dined alongside Afghani military members, all facing the same known terrorist threats and planned attacks.

"Today, Feb. 3, 2018, to look at each one of you, you already make me want to be better this afternoon than I was this morning, be better tomorrow than I am today," said Miller. "I promise you that every decision I make for this wing, will be for the betterment of our future."

In 2011, Col. Miller transitioned from a traditional guardsman and a commercial airline pilot to Active Guard Reserve in the Alabama Air National Guard. She is a decorated pilot with a diverse background comprised of over 2,300 military flying hours and 3,000 civilian flying hours.

"Col. Miller's selection as commander is extraordinary as she becomes the first woman to lead the operations here in the State of Ohio," said U.S. Congressman Bob Gibbs, at the Assumption of Command ceremony.

Ms. Leah Jones, a representative from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown's office, read a statement saying that he trusts that the unit will be in good hands with Col. Miller, who will be the first female officer to command an Ohio Air National Guard wing and will serve as a role model for women across the state.

"Serving the Mansfield community and its surrounding areas, the state of Ohio, and the Air National Guard as the commander of the 179th Airlift Wing is a tremendous honor and something I do not take lightly," said Miller.

The advice for her Airmen would be to seize every opportunity.

"Sometimes we don't realize we are in the middle of a situation that we can learn from and grow from until we look back on it," said Miller. "So just look at every opportunity as an opportunity to grow and be better."


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