The first time Laura Lenderman lived at Scott Air Force Base she played softball on what is now the site of the Scott Club, roller skated on the patio of the Essex House and was a member of the Scott Sharks swim team.
Back then she was a kid and her father, Col. Gordon Cook, was stationed at the base. Now, three and a half decades later, she’s back — and she’s in charge of the whole place.
“When my family was stationed here in the 1980s, I never imagined 35 years later that I would be standing here,” Lenderman said in her first address as commander on Monday. Recalling her skating days, she said “Who would have thought I would be responsible for that piece of concrete one day?”
Lenderman, attended elementary and junior high school in Mascoutah District 19. She joined the Air Force in 1993 and returned to Scott from 2010-12 as Chief of the Commander’s Action Group at Air Mobility Command at the base.
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This time, she’s in charge of the whole thing. On Monday, she was installed as the new commander of the 375 Air Mobility Wing, the top job at Scott.
General Carlton Everhart II, who installed Lenderman in her new post, said she has proved her qualifications to be a commander many times over.
“She has the right leadership qualities to take the 375th to new heights, and the courage to make tough calls when necessary,” Everhart said.
Lenderman took the reins from Col. Kyle J. Kremer. Kremer will take up a new post as executive officer to Gen. Darren McDew, the newly confirmed commander of Transcom, also headquartered at Scott.
Everhart lauded Kremer not only for making the 375th Air Mobility Wing efficient and successful. He said Kremer also strengthened always important ties with the communities that surround the base.
In his parting address as commander, Kremer called the job the highlight of his career.
“It’s been the toughest and most challenging assignment I’ve had,” Kremer said. “But also the easiest and most rewarding.”
As the commander of 375th Air Mobility Wing, Kremer often described himself as the base’s mayor. He thanked former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello for his tireless work to sustain and expand the base before thanking his “fellow mayors,” Mark Eckert of Belleville, Ken Mueller of Swansea and Gerald Daugherty of Mascoutah who were in attendance.
Like mayors elsewhere, Lenderman will be responsible for making making sure the sprawling community she oversees runs smoothly: that the water is running, the roads are plowed when it snows, the trash is carted off regularly and the crime rate stays low.
Lenderman is a graduate of Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. She holds three master’s degrees, one in business administration from George Washington University, one in military operational art and science from the Air Command and Staff College and one in air power art and science from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.
She has more than 3,000 hours behind the controls of KC-135 and KC-10 aerial tankers and C-17 cargo planes to her credit. Prior to becoming commander of 375th Air Mobility Wing, she served as vice commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in southwest Asia and as chief of the analysis branch in the Program and Budget Analysis Division of the Air Force in Washington D.C.