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Meet The First Guardsman To Lead MacDill AFB

Commanding an Air Force Wing – like the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Tampa – is challenging enough.  Add to that being accountable for the security and daily operations of a high profile military base that is headquarters for U.S. Central Command, and those responsibilities grow "huge." That’s why the Air Force selected Col. April Vogel to take command at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa.

“I see a leader that is described as a born leader, somebody who is meticulous somebody who is visionary. She has a proven track record of operational excellence,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, the Air Force’s top Air Mobility Commander.

Cox presided over the “Change of Command” ceremony before hundreds of service members and invited civilian guests inside MacDill’s vast Hangar 3.

“Now some of you, if you’ve looked at the bio, you’ll see that she’s a member of the Air National Guard. I don’t look at it that way,” Cox said. “I see an airman, an airman that’s a great leader. I see an airman that from day one from the first report ever written on her she’s got a take-charge, can-do attitude.”:

Vogel comes to MacDill after serving as Vice Commander at the 175th Wing at the Warfield Air National Guard Base, in Maryland. At age 44, she is the first Air National Guard member to serve as a commander at MacDill.

“The Air National Guard and the Air Force, they have the same mission and that is to fight and win the nation’s wars,” Vogel explained in a brief media interview after the ceremony. “We do what we are tasked to do by the Air Force. Whether we’re active-duty or we’re in the Guard.”

The Guard does have additional state duties to help in civil emergencies or disasters. However, while at MacDill, Vogel is considered active-duty Air Force and she will not have to respond to civil emergencies in Maryland. 

You will see that she is a member of the Air National Guard. I do not look at it that way. I see an airman, an airman that is a great leader. - Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox

Vogel said assigning a Guardsman to lead a high-profile air base like MacDill shows how closely active-duty and Guard have worked together over the last decade of war.

“We’re trying to build leaders in the Air Force who understand the entire force,” Vogel said. “That wherever they go to work, whether they are an airman turning wrenches or they’re a commander of a Wing, they understand what everybody is doing and what we need to accomplish. And that should be no different for the Guard or the active-duty.”

Vogel said taking care of MacDill’s airmen is a top priority along with fulfilling the Air Force’s mission.

“We have two flying missions that we do,” Vogel said. “We have continuous deployment going on. And so we need to make sure that those airmen who we’ve made sure are healthy and resourced are able to do the job so we can meet our mission.”

Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Airmen from the 6th Air Mobility Wing stand at attention during the Change of Command Ceremony.

Vogel will spend the next several weeks getting acquainted with her airmen and with her MacDill partners, the more than 30 other forces on base like the U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command.

She is a senior pilot with more than 1300 flight hours including 312 combat hours and she said she will continue to fly.

“I’m very excited. I’ve been checked out on the tanker and hopefully someday we’ll spend some time in the Gulf Streams,” Vogel said.

She anticipates the operations tempo at MacDill will remain busy -- just like the past decade. But during her time off, Vogel plans to enjoy the outdoors with her husband – also a Guardsman – and their 5-year-old son Brody.

“We came to this whole parenting thing a little late in our careers. Most of my peers their kids are heading to college,” Vogel said. “So when I’m not here – when I’m not working -- I like to spend time with him.

One of the many tasks Vogel has ahead of her is enrolling her son in kindergarten at Tinker Elementary which is on base.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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