First female commander takes charge of 178th Wing
Story by Staff Sgt. Rachel Simones, 178th Wing Public Affairs
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (11/05/19)
The first female commander assumed command of the 178th Wing during a historic change of command ceremony. Col. Kimberly A. Fitzgerald assumed command of the Ohio Air National Guard’s 178th Wing from Col. Gregg J. Hesterman Nov. 3 during a ceremony at Springfield-Beckley Air National Guard Base.
“I’m excited that all the women that are in this wing can see that they have a path,” said Fitzgerald, who previously served as the 178th Wing vice commander and assisted the commander in executing the wing’s mission.
Her career spans 26 years of service and includes more than 4,000 flight hours as a KC-135 navigator, a KC-135 pilot, MQ-1 Predator pilot and MQ-9 Reaper pilot. In 2011, she transferred to the 178th Wing where she served as the 162nd Flying Squadron commander and the Mission Support Group commander, before taking on her role as vice commander.
“I would definitely say that all my experiences are very diverse and I think that has led me to where I am,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve not been afraid of trying new things and going new places.”
Hesterman is moving on to a new leadership role as the director of staff at Headquarters, Ohio Air National Guard. In this new role, he will be working for the assistant adjutant general for Air to ensure the 5,000 Airmen in Ohio have what they need to be successful. As Hesterman moves on to a new career stop, he reflected on his achievements as the 178th Wing commander.
“When I look back over the last 2 ½ years, what I’m most proud of are those three things: what I’ve learned, the relationships I’ve built and just the greater appreciation for what’s going on inside the Ohio Air National Guard,” said Hesterman, who also discussed the meaning of leadership from his military experiences. “An absolute critical piece is having a strong moral compass,” he said. “If you try to do things right while you still show empathy and it’s not about you, but you’re caring for your Airmen, then they’ll honor that. Even if they don’t agree with your ultimate decision, they’ll respect you because they know that you’re following a compass that is true and right.”
As Fitzgerald takes on her new leadership role, she ushers in a new era at the 178th Wing.
“Your limitations are only what you impose upon yourself,” Fitzgerald said. “The military no longer says ‘women can’t do.’ Only you can say what you can’t do.”