Col. Christian Sander recognized as new commander of 109th Airlift Wing during April 11 ceremony

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Major Gen. Ray Shields (left) passes the guidon of the 109th Airlift Wing to Col. Christian Sander as the former commander, Col. Michele Kilgore watches during a command change ceremony on 11 April.

SCOTIA, NEW YORK (04/11/2021) (readMedia)-- Colonel Christian E. Sander, a Lake George resident, formally took command of the 109th Airlift Wing on Sunday April 11 during a ceremony at Stratton Air National Guard Base.

Sander replaces Col. Michele Kilgore who took command of the wing in 2017. He officially took command of the wing when Kilgore departed in Mid-December but he was deployed to New Zealand and Antarctica as part of the wing's regular support for National Science Foundation research in Antarctica.

Sander had most recently served as the 109th Airlift Wing Vice Commander, the wing's second in command.

Sunday's ceremony officially recognized the transition in command.

The 109th Airlift Wing flies the LC-130H "Skibird" the largest aircraft in the world with the ability to land on ice and snow. The wing supports science research in Antarctica and Greenland, as well as operations in Polar Regions.

Attendance at Sunday's change-of-command ceremony was limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event was recorded and posted on the wing's Facebook page.

Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York, recognized Kilgore for her service and praised Sander as a capable leader.

His role, Shields told Sander, is to be "laser focused" on building the strength of the 109th Airlift Wing while maintaining combat readiness and being able to handle New York State missions like the COVID 19 response.

In his remarks, Sander thanked Kilgore for her three years of leadership and told those listening that he was proud to be the wing commander.

" The 109th is present and accounted for and one hundred percent ready to execute our mission no matter what obstacles stand in our way," Sander said.

Sander joined the 109th Airlift Wing in 1990 and earned his commission as a second lieutenant in April of 1991 through the Academy of Military Science at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee.

After attending undergraduate pilot training he completed C-130 flight training in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Sander has served as an aircraft commander, a flight instructor and Chief of Antarctic Operations, as well as the wing chief of plans, chief of current operations, and a flight examiner.

Sander is a command pilot who has amassed more than 4,350 flying hours.

Other roles include serving as executive officer for the Chief of Staff of the New York Air National Guard, Operations Support Flight and squadron commander, deputy maintenance group commander, the 109th Operations Group Commander, and the 109th Airlift Wing Vice Commander from 2018 to the end of 2020.

His education includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering from Clarkson University, the Air Force Squadron Officers School, the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.

His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal, the National Defense Service Ribbon, the Antarctic Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

See video of the event on the 109th Airlift Wing Facebook Page: