Breaking barriers: Miller assumes command

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller has assumed the top role as the first female commander of Air Force Reserve Command.

During ceremonies at Robins Air Force Base on July 15, Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson relinquished command of AFRC. He led the Air Force Reserve since 2012, retiring from the Air Force with more than 38 years of military service.

Just before the passing of the guidon from Jackson to Miller, the 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. David L. Goldfein, spoke briefly on the historic events unfolding at Robins, home of AFRC.

“Today’s ceremony marks a very special moment in history for our Air Force, as well as Air Force Reserve Command,” said Goldfein, an experienced command pilot who flew combat missions in operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom.

“When it came time to select the best commander of AFRC, the choice was obvious. General Miller brings a combination of applied and intense warrior spirit and a passion for the mission for airmen and their families,” he said. “There’s no leader who is more fit, focused or ready to lead the Reserve triad of citizens, airmen and families.”

“We all have a stake in your success and we will be with you every step of the way,” he said.

Since 1948, Citizen Airmen have proudly served on every continent, in every domain, operating in countless locales. In AFRC, citizens are appreciated, airmen are valued and families thrive, said Goldfein, adding that long deployments from service sacrificed by airmen and their families have resulted in a special courage.

“I believe in service before self,” he said. “This particular core value applies as much to our families as it does to those who wear the uniform.”

Miller, a command pilot with more than 4,800 hours in numerous aircraft, including the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster, spoke of commitment and service, and understanding of what a life of service entailed in today’s challenging global environment. Her career spans 35 years, 26 of those in Air Force Reserve.

“To the men and women of the Air Force Reserve, today I take the flag of the Air Force Reserve Command, and just like you, continue to answer the call to serve our great nation,” she said.

The strength of the Air Force Reserve is its unique calling, she continued, and as citizens are fully invested within its communities raising families. Yet while immersed in civilian careers, she said there’s still a profound calling to do more.

“When you serve, your absence at home, in your neighborhoods, in your offices, speaks volumes about who you are as an Airman,” she said.

On the vision of the next four years in command, they include protecting our nation’s strengths, building on capabilities for today’s fight, and shaping the force for the fight of the future.

With service in Air Force Reserve for over two decades, Miller has served in every status as full-time and part-time, even as a small business owner.

“I have been in your shoes, and I know how hard it is to balance your life as a citizen and your life as an Airman,” she continued.

She spoke of contemplating retirement from service at one time, once enjoying a career as a successful restaurateur. But following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on American soil, the veteran pilot explained that four months later she began serving full time again.

“I want you to know that I appreciate you and the challenges that you face. I understand the call to serve and the hardships that go with it. I am honored to know you, I am honored to serve with you, but most importantly, to serve you,” she said.

Miller joins a list of women accomplishing major firsts in the Air Force, including Gen. Lori J. Robinson, who in May assumed command of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

Another first included the appointment of Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, who became the service’s first female four-star general, who led Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, before retiring in 2015.