Gen. Darren McDew probably should have his own ZIP code at Scott Air Force Base.
According to his Air Force bio, McDew has served as the commander, 375th Airlift Wing, and installation commander (January 2002-July 2003); 18th Air Force vice commander (July 2006-November 2007); the 18th Air Force commander (August 2012-April 2014); and Air Mobility Command commander (May 2014-August 2015) at Scott.
Most recently, McDew served as U.S. Transportation Command commander beginning in August 2015. In other words, McDew has been a fixture on base.
After Friday, however, McDew and SAFB will part ways, as he relinquished command of USTRANSCOM to Gen. Stephen Lyons during a change of command ceremony Friday morning, marking the end of his highly decorated 36-year military career.
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“I am truly humbled,” said McDew, who officially retired Friday afternoon. “To this incredible Scott Air Force Base community, thank you. Evelyn (McDew’s wife) and I have called this place home many, many times. I thank you for allowing me to grow up here. Today is a reflection of a journey. It’s not my journey; it’s a reflection of the command’s journey.”
Secretary of Defense James Mattis presided over the ceremony, and praised McDew while noting he is the only officer ever to command all four major commands at Scott.
“Gen. McDew, I am very sorry to see you leave active service,” Mattis said. “Over 36 years of service, Gen. McDew, you have shown an unwavering commitment to the protection of this nation from any foe. You have been a role model of devotion, to duty and to competence in our profession. You have never failed to embrace opportunity and allow room for the beauty of the unexpected and then deliver results. You’re never one to over-promise, but you always over-delivered.
“To borrow your own words, you were built to be here at Scott.”
Lyons applauded McDew as well, while acknowledging he has big shoes to fill.
“I’d like to congratulate Gen. Darren McDew and his wife, Evelyn, for an exceptional tour of duty as TRANSCOM commander and for the culmination of 36years of exceptional leadership and selfless leadership to our nation,” he said. “You will always be welcome here.”
According to the change of command program, McDew has commanded at all levels of the Air Force, to include two wings and the Air Force District of Washington, an Air Force direct reporting unit. He has deployed in support of ongoing operations in Central and Southwest Asia as an Air Expeditionary Group commander and later as the Director of Mobility Forces.
Additionally, McDew, who has spent eight years at Scott, was a command pilot with more than 3,300 flying hours in various mobility aircraft.
“Secretary Mattis, thank you for the wonderful words, and thank you for recognizing my family,” McDew said. “You’ve afforded me a great opportunity to lead the men and women of this command for three years, and I can’t thank you enough.”
Lyons, meanwhile, is the first Army officer to lead USTRANSCOM and, according to his bio, comes to Scott AFB from the Pentagon, where he served as Director for Logistics (J4) on the Joint Staff.
As stated in the program, Lyons served as the 14th USTRANSCOM deputy commander from 2015-17 and possesses 35 years of military service. Overall, Lyons is the 13th USTRANSCOM commander and undoubtedly is excited about the opportunity.
“I’m really pleased (Mattis) nominated me for the position,” Lyons said. “This is just a fantastic community. We’re really pleased and excited to be here. This Belle-Scott community is one of the strongest (civilian)-military relationships that I’ve seen in my 35 years as a soldier. To come here on this air base and to be back with this great community is wonderful.
“The command is absolutely phenomenal, what this team at USTRANSCOM does every day across the globe.”
Added Mattis about USTRANSCOM’s future with Lyons in charge: “I have no doubt your command will remain the best in the world.”
Moving forward, McDew also expects USTRANSCOM to continue flourishing.
“We have more resolve than ever,” McDew said. “I leave today, but the command will continue to march ahead upholding its promise to the American people and preserving the nation’s competitive advantage just the way we’ve always done for 31 years of our history and 12 commanders.
“Not only is Steve a tested and proven leader, he’s also the right leader for the right time to take the mantle of this command.”
According to a press release from U.S. Transportation Command Public Affairs, USTRANSCOM is a global combatant command with functional responsibilities for air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense, ultimately delivering combat power on behalf of the President and the Secretary of Defense anywhere in the world at the time and place of its choosing.