Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett will enjoy one of the shortest job-change commutes in history.
Having most recently served as the Director of Operations, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB, Barrett will now move just across the street to serve as the 18th Air Force commander.
Barrett, 52, assumed command of the 18th Air Force from Lt. Gen. Giovanni K. Tuck during a change of command ceremony Tuesday at Scott Air Force Base. This marks the second time Barrett has taken command from Tuck — the previous time involving the 15th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
“This is absolutely a thrill for me and my family ... it is quite an honor,” Barrett said. “The 18th Air Force is something I’ve been in or around for 30 years as an AMC officer. The opportunity to command 39,000 of the finest on earth in the 18th Air Force is the privilege of a lifetime. I cannot express how privileged I feel to be their leader and supporter in this position.”
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According to his Air Force biography, Barrett received his commission upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988 and is a command pilot with more than 4,400 hours in several mobility airlift aircraft.
Also according to his biography, Barrett has been commander of the 350th Air Refueling Squadron at McConnell AFB, Kansas; deputy commander, 22nd Operations Group at McConnell; vice commander and then commander, 15th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and commander, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, U.S. Transportation Command, Norfolk, Virginia.
“I don’t think there’s a better life than an Air Force life,” he said.
Overall, Barrett outlined three key areas of focus — continuing to work full spectrum readiness for the command, squadron vitality and taking care of the airmen.
“We’re absolutely the most capable mobility command on earth, but you always have to train so your Airmen are ready for any mission they have to face,” Barrett said. “Beyond readiness, squadron vitality and taking care of our Airmen is at the forefront of our responsibility. They do such a great job for our nation. It is the commander’s job to make sure they have the resources to execute their missions and the balance in their lives to serve and do it in an environment like I’ve experienced over my career.”
Barrett also lauded the strong community support Scott Air Force Base receives, highlighting the education system and spouse employment opportunities.
“I just want to give a big thanks to this community for embracing our Air Force and Airmen,” he said. “The value of the community support we have is so important for our Airmen to accomplish their missions. When you’re a young Airman or family being welcomed into a community, this is incredibly important. I just want to emphasize how well that is done in this community.”
Barrett’s family includes his wife, Kelly; daughters Sydney, 27, and Phoebe, 24; and son Sam, 19. Sydney sang the National Anthem prior to the ceremony.
Tuck, meanwhile, leaves the 18th Air Force for the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where he will serve as the Director for Logistics, J-4, Joint Staff. Tuck said he was humbled to serve as the 13th commander of the 18th Air Force.
“Indeed, it has been my absolute honor to work with some of the highest quality public servants — both military and civilian — within the Air Force, Air Mobility Command, and United States Transportation Command,” said Tuck, who assumed command of the 18th Air Force on June 1, 2017. “To the men and women of 18th Air Force, thank you for your leadership, mentorship and friendship. I leave today with a deep admiration and the greatest respect for you and what you mean to our command, our Air Force and this great nation.”
Tuck expects Barrett to excel as 18th Air Force commander.
“You’re absolutely the right person for the job,” Tuck said. “And I look forward to where you will take the command next. You are absolutely going to do a great job.”
Gen. Carlton Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander, praised both Barrett and Tuck.
“I’m honored to share the stage today with two titans of Air Mobility Command,” Everhart said. “These two Airmen are true Air Mobility advocates, and they exemplify the core values in every aspect of their careers. As all of you in this room can attest, it has been a busy year in Air Mobility Command and 18th Air Force. And these two Airmen have been at the very heart of everything that’s happened in this command, and have continued to fight to give the Airmen of AMC the tools to be successful.”
Everhart said Barrett is ideal to lead the 18th Air Force.
“Time and again, he has proven himself as an exceptional aviator, leader, and one who knows the Air Mobility business inside and out,” Everhart said. “Sam, as my AMC A3, I could not have asked more from you. I have given you the biggest challenges and every one you have championed and succeeded. You are absolutely the right person for this job. I look forward to watching you continue to lead our Airmen.”
Regarding Tuck, Everhart said, “You should take pride in knowing that the largest numbered Air Force and the greatest Air Force the world has ever known is firing on all cylinders, and it’s because of your leadership. GI, your success at 18th Air Force did not go unnoticed. He’s heading to the Pentagon to the Joint Staff ... it is a very big job, and they picked the right person.”
According to the 18th Air Force website, with approximately 39,000 active-duty, guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and approximately 1,100 aircraft, the 18th Air Force manages the global air mobility enterprise through the 618th Air Operations Center, 12 wings and one stand-alone group.
Additionally, as Air Mobility Command’s sole warfighting numbered air force, 18th Air Force is responsible for the command’s worldwide operational mission of providing rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America’s armed forces through airlift, aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and contingency response, according to the 18th Air Force website.