908th gets new commander as new mission gets closer

  • Published
  • By Bradley J. Clark
  • 908th Airlift Wing

The 908th Airlift Wing, Alabama’s only Air Force Reserve Command Wing, held a change of command ceremony Saturday Sept. 9, 2023, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

22nd Air Force Commanding General, Melissa A. Coburn, was the presiding official for the ceremony, which saw the wing say farewell to outgoing commander, Col. Craig W. Drescher, and welcome new incoming commander, Col. Christopher K. Lacouture, as the 27th commander of the 908th Airlift Wing.

Lacouture will be responsible for wing’s transition to becoming the formal training unit for the MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter, the aircraft selected to replace the aging UH-1N Huey fleet and mission sets. In addition to being the Department of Defense’s only formal training unit for the Grey Wolf, the 908th also perform a variety of missions to include: aeromedical staging and evacuation, civil engineering, security forces operations, aerial port operations, and more.

During the ceremony, Coburn spoke highly of Drescher’s time as the wing commander.

“During his time in command, Craig has led this wing through unprecedented changes – a pandemic, the largest deployment the unit has ever seen, the transition from a legacy C-130H unit to become a formal training unit for the MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter, and more,” said Coburn. “But stating that his time at the 908th began as he took command is somewhat an argument of semantics – Craig’s time here didn’t begin in command. His entire Air Force career has been dedicated to the 908th. During more than three decades of service, Craig has spent nearly 20 years serving in the Air Force Reserve, most of which has been right here at home in Montgomery. He chose to stay for one simple but significant reason – family, his own and the 908th family.”

Coburn closed her comments about Drescher thanking him for all he has done.

“Craig, thank you for your leadership,” said Coburn. “Thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for being you. You exemplify integrity, service and excellence. You have made your mark on the 908th and you have left very large shoes to fill.”

Drescher then had a chance to speak reflecting on his time as the commander.

If it was something hard, the Air Force decided to give it to the 908th” explained Drescher. “But, you all have made it look easy. It has been the honor of my lifetime to serve with the 908th, especially the last four years.”

Approximately 30 minutes after the change of command ceremony, Drescher closed his 34-year military career with a retirement ceremony.

Next Coburn turned her attention to Lacouture.

“As we bid Craig farewell, we now formally welcome Col. Christopher Lacouture to the 908th,” said Coburn. “Chris is already a part of the 22nd family, leaving his position as the chief of operations for 22nd Air Force, and is one of the few leaders who I am confident can fill the void Craig will leave.”

Coburn then turned her focus to Lacouture, and his experiences that made him the right person to lead the wing.

“Chris comes to the 908th with more than 27 years of military service and experience,” explained Coburn. “Military service runs in his blood and throughout his family. He is a born leader and commander. During his time in the military, Chris has served in a variety of assignments, accumulating thousands of flight hours, deployments across the Middle East and Africa, and as a commander in Air Force units across the country. His Air Force career has truly been a global one.”

After speaking, the three then positioned themselves for the change of command’s passing of the unit guidon.

Following Lacouture receiving command, he spoke about the future of the 908th.

“Airmen of the 908th, I am excited to be here,” said Lacouture. “I am thrilled to be back in a unit, not just any unit, but this wing. My 27 years in the Air Force were filled with opportunities to prepare me for this assignment. I learned to embrace change but not just for change’s sake. We are halfway through the most complex mission change in any wing in AFRC has executed. You are doing that work and doing it well. I have watched you from my previous assignments and have been impressed with your resiliency and patience. I can appreciate the difficulty of being in a transitioning unit. In the next two years, that work will progress as the MH-139 schoolhouse emerges and the wing continues its deployable mission… I will not lose sight of our deployable mission while we build the training mission.”

Lacouture also wanted to emphasize future changes.

“I will say more at the commander’s call during the October UTA,” explained Lacouture. “I will release initial expectations and guidance for the wing. Please read it. Changes are coming but as I said, not change for change’s sake. Changes will be thoughtful, information based, and executable.”

Lacouture is the former Director of Operations, Plans, and Programs for 22nd Air Force at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. He was commissioned in the U. S. Air Force through the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996, and has flown the T-37, UH-1H, UH-1N, HH-60G, and C-130J aircraft.

Lacouture also commanded the 913th Airlift Group, the 920th Operations Group, the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 301st Rescue Squadron, and the 920th Operations Support Squadron.

“I am excited to be here and honored to be the commander of the 908th,” closed Lacouture.