Fort Plain High School graduate Col. Shawn Clouthier realized a personal goal on Saturday with a ceremonial transferring of the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base to his command.
“To reach this point after coming up through the ranks, and to take command of such a great and well-known organization, is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Clouthier, a Greene County resident. “To lead the wing is any military person’s ultimate dream.”
The former commander, Col. Timothy LaBarge, who assumed command of the 105th Airlift Wing in Newburgh a few weeks ago, handed over the reins before hundreds of Guard members in one of the Glenville base’s hangars, usually reserved for housing the LC-130 Hercules aircraft.
That aircraft, along with the people he has gotten to know during more than four years on the base, and its unique mission capabilities are what LaBarge will miss. “Airplanes with skis on them, it can’t get much more exciting than that,” he said, referring to the landing gear on the LC-130 aircraft that makes it possible for them to land on snow or ice in hostile climates. The wing services training exercises in Greenland and the National Science Foundation research stations in Antarctica.
In remarks at the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York, commended LaBarge for serving with “integrity and compassion.” He added that the men and women of the 109th shouldn’t be worried, as they’ll be “getting a great leader.”
Clouthier assumes command of the wing three years after being named the maintenance squadron commander. He rose to the top of the maintenance group and a few months ago was named the 109th’s operations group commander.
His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Antarctica Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
As commander of the base he is hoping to maintain the organization’s current objectives and wants to ensure it remains a vital asset for the country.
The landing capability of the LC-130 is what Clouthier said makes the Glenville base so special. He stressed that this base has capabilities that can’t be replicated elsewhere.
“That keeps us relevant,” he said, acknowledging the threat of base closures across the country due to budget cuts.