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Col. Kevin McLaughlin to become Buckley AFB vice commander in June

Col. Kevin McLaughlin receives a copy of the Constitution from Col. John Hyten, 50th Space Wing Commander, during a picnic at the U.S. Air Force Academy Saturday. Col. McLaughlin will surrender the group?s guidon to Col. Clinton Crosier, Office of the Secretary of Defense Directorate of Operations, in a ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. June 9.

Col. Kevin McLaughlin receives a copy of the Constitution from Col. John Hyten, 50th Space Wing Commander, during a picnic at the U.S. Air Force Academy Saturday. Col. McLaughlin will surrender the group?s guidon to Col. Clinton Crosier, Office of the Secretary of Defense Directorate of Operations, in a ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. June 9.

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Members of the 50th Operations Group and their families wished the 50th OG Commander a fond, if early, farewell Saturday during a picnic at the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

Col. Kevin McLaughlin will surrender the group’s guidon to Col. Clinton Crosier, Office of the Secretary of Defense Directorate of Operations, in a ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. June 9. 

Saturday was the closest day to the ceremony that was convenient for the colonel, group members and their families, said Lt. Col. Lee-Volker Cox, 50th OG Deputy Commander. 

The group commanders stood to thank Colonel McLaughlin for his support of their missions. Colonel Cox delivered a message on behalf of Lt. Col. Gary Henry, 50th Mission Support Group Commander, who could not attend. Each commander who spoke had glowing praise about Colonel McLaughlin’s leadership and vision. 

“This is my first job in Air Force Space Command,” said Col. Dave Uhrich, 50th Network Operations Group Commander. “I would be doing much more poorly without the mentorship and support of Colonel McLaughlin.” 

“Between us, we’ve been in the space business for more than 40 years, but we’ve never been assigned to the same place at the same time,” said Col. John Hyten, 50th SW Commander. “(Colonel McLaughlin’s) vision of where he wanted to go was very similar to mine, and I knew it would take no time at all (after assuming command) to figure out where we want to go together.” 

The McLaughlin family was also an important part of the group. “Colonel McLaughlin does not come alone—he brings an entire team with him,” said Michelle Cox, Colonel Cox’s wife. 

“His wife and family are spectacular,” Colonel Hyten said. “We know that because his wife, Victoria, is everywhere.” 

Colonel McLaughlin said he was pleased to see the turnout, especially among 50th OG family members, for the picnic. 

“To have everyone together for this is exactly what I wanted,” he said. “As I look out and see the children and the spouses, I know you see from the other side how hard your spouse works. I appreciate the support you give to the OG and the Air Force. 

“This is a special calling. We are the United States military—the nation depends on our hard work and dedication, and we couldn’t do it without your support,” he said. 

The colonel looked back at the history of teamwork between 50th OG and 50th NOG. 

“Colonel Uhrich and I call each other ‘Brother Kevin’ and ‘Brother David,’” he said. “While you’d think there would be some competition between the two groups, that’s really not the case. We’re responsible for two symbiotic parts of the wing mission; every time we’ve ever needed support from NOG, we’ve had it.” 

He also reflected fondly upon his time at Schriever. 

“The last two years have been the most rewarding two years I’ve had as an Air Force officer,” he said. “I’ve never been more honored to be with a team that is not only the best in the world but is driving changes that will affect AFSPC and will affect the business 

“I’ve been blessed with two great bosses— Col. (Suzanne) Vautrinot as well as Colonel Hyten. Their leadership set the bar high,” he said. “Our youngest troops are seeing the change in our business, and they’re excited to see it. 

“I can’t think of a better senior leadership team—colonels and chiefs—anywhere I’ve ever gone. You never have to watch your back here, because someone else is watching it,” he said. “A big part of my heart is inside the restricted area at Schriever and always will be, even if I never get the chance to be stationed out here again.”