SPRINGFIELD, Ohio --
Col. Gregg Hesterman assumes his new position as the 178th Wing commander during a ceremony at Springfield Air National Guard Base, Ohio, Nov. 4.
Col. John Knabel, the outgoing 178th Wing commander, handed over the guidon to Hesterman. Knabel retired after 29 years of military service.
“Commanding the 178th Wing has been the most rewarding assignment in my 29 year career,” said Knabel.
Hesterman’s military career began when he commissioned through Iowa State’s Naval ROTC program as an officer in the U.S. Navy in 1991. Soon after, his career lead him to Pensacola, Florida, where he began pilot training.
“I was winged in 1994,” said Hesterman. “My first assignment was at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.”
“I flew big communications airplanes for four years,” said Hesterman. “I found out about the Air National Guard in 2000, and I jumped ship in 2001 and came to Ohio.”
Hesterman joined the 121st Air Refueling Wing, Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Columbus, Ohio and served as a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot.
In addition to serving as a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, Hesterman held multiple other leadership positions at the 121st before arriving at the 178th Wing in April 2017. He served as the vice commander at both the 121st and 178th, before assuming his new role as commander.
Hesterman discussed how two of his priorities for the wing are the mission and the people.
“We can’t do the mission without the people,” said Hesterman. “Relationships are what make the mission work. We need to do what we can to support one another and encourage positive relationships.”
Airman 1st Class Cana Biser, a command support staff specialist, discussed how Hesterman’s priority for people shines through in his leadership style.
“I've worked with Col. Hesterman for a while now, and I am excited to see what he can bring to this Wing,” said Biser. “He is truly genuine. When people come to him with issues, he listens to the full story before he gives a solution.”
Hesterman’s other main priority is providing quality service to customers.
“All of us have a customer,” said Hesterman. “We need to be cognizant of the fact that we’re here to serve them.”
One of Hesterman’s goals for the wing is to improve connections between different units on base.
“I think one of the biggest things I want to do is to break down barriers to get people to understand how they fit together as a team and as a wing” said Hesterman. “Because of our mission, we operate very independently from one another, and I want to change that so people understand one another’s mission better.”
Biser also discussed how Hesterman’s dedication to improving Airmen connections throughout the wing reflects his own relationships with his colleagues.
“He is someone I can go to when I am struggling. He is a leader that listens to the Airmen around him, and he continuously works toward fixing any issues that people have,” said Biser.
Hesterman’s career was shaped by his diverse job positions, and encouraging leaders.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with some really awesome people,” said Hesterman. “They mentored me without even realizing they were doing so.”
Hesterman emphasized the importance of taking care of younger Airmen, and advised them to embrace change.
“Never stop asking questions,” said Hesterman. “Whenever you start to get comfortable, you need to start looking for change,” said Hesterman. “We don’t grow when we’re comfortable.”