PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. - Col. Donna M. Prigmore became the new 142nd Fighter Wing Mission Support Group (MSG) commander following her promotion to the rank of colonel during a dual ceremony here Sunday.
Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, presided over the promotion ceremony that took place immediately before the MSG change of command. He talked about Prigmore's time in the military, which has included active duty service as well as time in the National Guard in three states.
"Often, we think of a person stepping up to a rank and bestowed with the legal authority that comes with it, but at the same time it is what she (Prigmore) is bestowing on the rank that makes her unique," said Stencel.
Primore's two sons, Brian and Nathan, helped pin on her new rank and her husband, Lt. Col. John Prigmore, assigned to the Joint Operations Center in Salem, Oregon, also helped her don a jacket bearing the colonel insignia.
After the promotion ceremony, the event quickly turned to the formal change of command ceremony for the Mission Support Group as Col. Paul Fitzgerald relinquished command to Prigmore.
Before the formal exchange of colors, Col. Rick Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing commander, addressed those in attendance.
"We have the opportunity today to watch the change of command from one absolute winner to another," said Wedan.
In describing Prigmore's leadership attributes, Wedan stressed that "... at her core, she understands that if you take care of your people, they are going to take care of the mission."
"It's the Drill Status Guardsman that the framers had in mind with the Militia Clause [of the Constitution]. We can put a DSG into the commander position and match their talents to the title," said Wedan.
After taking command of the MSG, Prigmore addressed many of the Airmen she will lead and others in attendance on a variety of issues and challenges that lay ahead.
"It is my belief that we need to be a physically fit and operationally ready force to support the mission here as well as downrange with overseas contingency operations," she said.
Highlighting other goals, Prigmore talked about the ability to offer the multiple service skills that fall under the MSG expertise as "we have a vast array of capabilities that can be utilized by the governor." Those include civil engineers, contractors, communications experts, firefighters, police officers and explosive ordnance disposal specialists.
Prigmore said she also hopes to continue the development with many of the Portland Air National Guard Base infrastructure improvements that have begun since the 50-year lease was signed with the Port of Portland in 2012.
The Portland Air National Guard Base has more than 70 buildings and almost 250 acres of property. Under the new lease agreement, some of the property will be absorbed by the Port of Portland.
"You just don't give property back ... there are fences that will go up, utilities have to be changed and other issues that come along with the transition," said Prigmore.
As a full-time employee of the Port of Portland, she is the customer relations manager at the Portland International Airport, making her a unique catalyst for this transition between the port and the air base.
During the ceremony, outgoing MSG Commander Col. Paul Fitzgerald touched on his experiences with the unit in the past two years.
"Every place I've turned toward for support in this unit has been amazing, the talent and skill of our Airmen is off the charts," he said.
Fitzgerald will transition to his new role as the 142nd Fighter Wing vice commander in October.