WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Lt. Col. Kristin Goodwin took command of the 509th Operations Support Squadron, June 14, making her the first female operations squadron commander of an Air Force bomber unit.
“I have met and worked with a lot of wonderful people, seen interesting places and worked a myriad of challenging jobs in preparation for this day,” said Goodwin. “It is my honor to be selected to lead the women and men of the 509th OSS, and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.”
She said being the first female operations squadron commander of a bomber unit brings her honor and a huge responsibility to stand as an example to young men and women.
“I think it highlights how women are still breaking barriers,” she said. “And that if we work hard, keep our eye on our dreams and don’t give up, we can achieve opportunities out there that are still available.”
In Goodwin’s experience, successfully accomplishing the mission takes hard work, leadership and teamwork from the top down.
“The mission truly depends on everyone from the commander, to the newest officer, to the senior enlisted members, to the newest enlisted members,” Goodwin said during her change of command speech. “What a senior master sergeant brings to the table in experience, a new enlisted member brings in enthusiasm and fresh ideas. What the squadron commander brings in leadership and mentoring is matched by the contributions of young officers who are working hard to become career officers and professionals.
“For people to perform to their greatest potential, they need to know they’re being backed up by the kind of loyalty displayed by that senior master sergeant, and that squadron commander,” she said. “It takes a total team effort when the pressure is on, when time is of the essence, when there isn’t a blueprint or checklist. It truly takes a total team effort to accomplish the mission we’ve been tasked with.”
Goodwin first arrived at Whiteman in 2001 for initial B-2 qualification – completing the course in June 2002. Following this training, she became a flight commander and chief of scheduling for the 325th Bomb Squadron here from June 2002 to November 2004. Then, from November 2005 to December 2005, she continued to work as chief of scheduling, and took on the role of B-2 instructor pilot. As she continued her career, Goodwin moved on to becoming assistant director of operations and chief of Wing combat plans as part of the 509th OSS, from December 2005 to July 2006.
Goodwin said she is ready to meet the challenge of commanding a squadron under the demanding operational tempo of a strategically important base such as Whiteman.
“We have inspections, exercises and real world tasks that we need to be ready to execute at any time,” said Goodwin. “We are ready to do just that. I feel that we have such quality individuals and Airmen, that we will meet every task. My challenge will be that Airmen know that they are backed by their commander and that we do not burn out.”
Growing up in a family rooted in military service to her nation, sacrifice and patriotism; Goodwin knew at a very early age she wanted to follow in her family’s footsteps.
“She wanted to be a pilot ever since she could say the word,” said Rhonda Goodwin McKinney, Goodwin’s mother and a retired lieutenant colonel herself.
“I flew the C-130 for four years, and deployed quite a bit over in the Middle East,” she said. “I always wanted to be a part of special operations, and I had the opportunity to integrate with a variety services to do just that.”
“After that, I went to the Pentagon and worked on the Air Staff, Joint Staff and Capitol Hill with Congress, while I worked on my master’s at George Washington [University],” she said. “That opened the doors for me to apply to work with the B-2 in 2000. Thirty applicants were selected to come to Whiteman for an interview, and 15 of us were picked. She spent the next five years at Whiteman.
After her assignment to Whiteman, Goodwin went on to the Pentagon and worked as a political adviser to General T. Michael Moseley, then Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Returning to Whiteman in 2009, where she directed operations for the 393rd Bomb Squadron Tigers.