Grandy takes command
By Ms. Michelle Gigante, 919th Special Operations Wing
/ Published July 11, 2021
DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- The 919th Special Operations Wing welcomed Col. Jason Grandy, and bid farewell to Col. Kevin Merrill during a change of command ceremony at Duke Field, Florida, July 11, 2021.
Merrill, who arrived in August 2019, relinquished command to Grandy making him the 17th commander of the 919th SOW.
“[Jason], welcome to the best job you’ll ever have,” said Maj. Gen. Bryan Radliff, 10th Air Force commander and presiding official for the ceremony. “You’re well respected by your peers and mine. You’re not here by accident. You have the experience we need to continue the 919th’s [SOW] great legacy. I challenge you to make it even better.”
In his previous assignment, Grandy led members of the 919th Special Operations Group as their commander. He also served as the deputy chief of programs in the Force Structure and Basing Division at Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command and as commander of the 2nd Special Operations Squadron—both at Hurlburt Field, Florida.
Grandy thanked local elected officials, community partners and other distinguished guests in attendance. He also recognized Mrs. Judy Haugen and her family who were present for the ceremony. Haugen’s late husband, Brig. Gen. Donald Haugen, was the first commander of the 919th Tactical Airlift Group which arrived at Duke Field almost 50 years ago to the day in July 1971.
The new commander also conveyed his gratitude for being chosen to lead such a unique organization while also recognizing his predecessor’s contributions to the mission during an unprecedented time in the nation’s history.
“General Radliff, I’m honored and humbled by this opportunity," said Grandy. "Thank you for affording me the privilege to lead the men and women of the 919th SOW. I can't wait to get started."
“Colonel Merrill, I'm eternally grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to lead the men and women of the 919th Special Operations Group. I've watched you lead our wing for the last year and a half. Your resolve, patience, and confidence are exactly what the wing needed in one of the toughest times in our history. There is no doubt we are better today because of your leadership.”
In his final address, Merrill thanked his family for their support and listed a number of contributions Duke Field Citizen Airmen made to Air Force Special Operations Command while under his command.
“I love telling people about this wing,” said Merrill, “Our Airmen are AFRC [Air Force Reserve Command], AFSOC and the 919th’s competitive advantage. I truly believe that because I’ve seen it in our Airmen.”
Merrill concluded by sharing what he’ll miss most about leading the 919th SOW.
“Without a doubt, I’ll miss the people the most,” said Merrill. “This is an incredible wing with a very rich heritage of heroic, selfless contributions to special operations and our nation’s defense. I wish each and every one of you the very best in the days ahead.”