New leader for Dover AFB
Unlike a civilian company, where a vice president may become president, the Air Force rarely promotes a vice wing commander to commander of the same base. Dover Air Force Base broke that norm when former vice wing commander Col. Matthew Jones officially took command of the 436th Airlift Wing Jan. 7.
Col. Joel Safranek passed the torch to Jones in a change of command ceremony at Dover Air Force Base’s Aerial Port Squadron.
Safranek’s next assignment will be at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, in the Strategic Plans, Policy and Logistics Division within U.S. Transportation Command.
Under Safranek’s leadership, the wing hosted the 2019 Thunder Over Dover Air Show
and Open House, flew more than 5,000 flights, including more than 1,100 in support of combat
operations, and earned the 2019 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
“Your personal leadership sets the bar high,” Maj. Gen. Sam C. Barrett, commander of Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, said in his remarks about Safranek.
Beyond hosting the air show, Safranek said he was proud of securing needed funding for construction of schools and a hangar.
“This has been the highlight of my career, and my family and I will miss Dover greatly,” he said. “I’ve become a better person by being a commander of this team.”
Staying at the base is a huge benefit for the Jones family, which has moved five times in the last six years. Not only do Jones’ daughters get to stay in the same schools and move just one house down the street, but Jones believes the base’s mission will benefit, too.
“Knowing that I now have more of an extended opportunity, you’re allowed to look a little bit longer term, and it allows for those partnerships and friendships to be a little more than surface-deep, a little more genuine,” Jones said. “I’m even able to keep the momentum of my predecessor going better because we worked on many of those things together.”
More than 35 of Jones’ family members attended the ceremony, many of whom have served in the Air Force or other branches of the military. “We just knew growing up that the Jones boys would serve,” he said.
As wing commander, Jones is responsible for the cargo flying missions and the 9,000 airmen on base. In supporting the installation, he described his role like a mayor.
“You worry about roads when it snows, utilities and a lot of that. I think people can relate to that,” he said. On the missions side of things, Jones said he thinks about the airmen overseas.
“We’ve gotten very busy recently. I start this journey with a good percentage of the wing overseas, sometimes in harm’s way,” he said. “A lot of what we do when it comes to readiness and in our efforts is to make sure we do our best to train and equip them to do that.”