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    Col. Robert Donaldson, a Greenfield Center resident, takes command of the Air Guard's 109th Airlift Wing

    Col. Robert Donaldson takes command of 109th Airlift Wing

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Matthew Gunther | U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Donaldson, right, receives guidon of the New York Air...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Matthew Gunther 

    New York National Guard

    STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SCOTIA, NY — New York Air National Col. Robert Donaldson, a Greenfield Center resident, took command of the 109th Airlift Wing during a ceremony at Stratton Air National Guard Base on Saturday, March 2.

    Donaldson, who first enlisted in the wing 33 years ago, replaced Col. Christian Sander, a Lake George resident, who commanded the wing since 2020. Sander is retiring after 32 years of service.

    "I'm elated," Donaldson said. "It's such a blessing to be considered with the trust and confidence that the state leadership has placed in me along with the military services here. I'm really proud of this moment."

    Major Gen. Denise Donnell, the commander of the New York Air National Guard presided over the ceremony and transferred the wing's guidon from Sander to Donaldson, signifying the command change.

    "I know you will keep your focus on safety, strength and readiness," Donnell told Donaldson.

    "And I know your family too will put up with late calls and early texts," she added.

    In his farewell remarks, Sander praised Donaldson as the right officer to be the commander of the 109th.

    He described Donaldson, who formerly served as the wing vice commander as "my right hand man" who "has been with me from day one, a mission navigator, a degreed civil engineer, a licensed lawyer a consummate professional, loyal and skilled in all things Air National Guard."

    Five hundred Airmen filled the hanger during the ceremony, which was also attended by Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, and local Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

    The 109th Airlift Wing, which has a strength of 1,160 Airmen, operates ten LC-130 Hercules transport, which is equipped with skies to land on snow and ice.

    These are the largest aircraft in the world with that capability.

    The wing provides support to the National Science Foundation's Antarctic program, flying missions across the continent from McMurdo Station during the Antarctic summer. The Air Guard aircrews transport scientists, fuel, food, equipment, medical supplies, and research equipment.

    During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, the wing fly's missions to Greenland to support science research there.

    The 109th Airlift Wing's primary mission is to provide airlift within Antarctica, flying to various remote locations from McMurdo Station.

    The wing also flies mission in support of Canadian and American military missions in the Arctic.

    Donaldson has flow almost 2,000 hours as a LC-130 navigator. Along with missions to Greenland and Iceland he served at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2009.

    Donaldson was commissioned in 1999 from the Academy of Military Science after serving eight years as an enlisted aircrew member with the US Air Force and the New York Air National Guard.

    His previous assignments include serving at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, serving as the Director of Staff at New York's Joint Force Headquarters, and as the commander of the 109th Airlift Wing's Maintenance Group.

    Donaldson holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineer from Union College in Schenectady, and Juris Doctor of Law degree from Albany Law School.

    He is a graduate of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, as well as the Air War College.

    His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air & Space Organizational Excellence Award, National Defense Service Medal with bronze Service Star, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

    He was also awarded the Ashraf M. Ghaly Geotechnical Prize, Excellence in Civil Engineering, Union College in 1998 and the Gabrielli Oral Advocacy Award, Albany Law School in 2004.



    Date Taken: 03.02.2024
    Date Posted: 03.04.2024 13:38
    Story ID: 465292
    Hometown: SCOTIA, NY, US

    Web Views: 725
    Downloads: 0