Long-time leader departs for Dobbins

  • Published
  • By Gene H. Hughes
  • 908th Airlift Wing
It was August of 2000 when Lt. Col. Troy Vonada first joined the ranks of the 908th.

More than 13 years later, he departs for a new opportunity at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, having served in multiple functions throughout the unit.

In his new position, Vonada will be assuming duties as Management and Program Analyst for the 22nd Air Force. His primary duties will be Continuous Process Improvement, running the Joint Lessons Learned program, and assisting the 22nd with internal and external inspection programs.

"Readiness is the NAF's primary mission and I'll be a part of the team ensuring the NAF wings are ready to perform their wartime mission," he said.

Since joining the 908th, Vonada has served as commander of military personnel flight, mission support flight/squadron, chief of performance planning, executive officer for the operations group and the wing, chief of operations management and chief of wing readiness.

The most challenging, he said, was as commander of the MPF, "primarily because I had so many bosses - my rater was the mission support squadron commander, the civilian was the group deputy commander; for manpower and civilian personnel it was the wing commander, and of course the mission support group commander.
"No one can successfully serve too many masters."

Vonada said his fondest memory of his time with the wing was his tour in the operations group.

"They accepted me with open arms when I was in the middle of battling cancer the first time (in 2008) and made me a part of them," he said. "They know how to be professional, get the job done and still have a good time.

"It was just what I needed although I didn't understand it at the time."

But it hasn't been easy for him.

In January of 2008, Vonada was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network of the body. In this type of cancer, tumors develop from lymphocytes -- a type of white blood cell.

Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, abdominal pain or swelling, chest pains, coughing or trouble breathing, fatigue, fever, night sweats and weight loss.

Although it went into remission six months later, Vonada, who has battled the disease twice, said battling cancer was especially tough the first time.

"I was sick a lot although I worked as often as I could," he said. "My regimen was chemo treatments for three days, every three weeks, followed up by radiation therapy for 27 days."

While fighting the disease in 2008, Vonada only rescheduled one unit training assembly.

Five years later, the lymphoma came back, but didn't metastasize, or spread from one part of the body to another. This meant he only had to undergo three weeks of radiation therapy.

"Currently, I'm in complete and full remission," he said. "Praise God!"
Vonada was recently selected for promotion to colonel and looks forward to an advancement 32 years in the making, but said he'll most miss "the feeling of being home" with the 908th.

"There's a comfort level at Maxwell that you don't get anywhere else," he said. "Being from Pensacola, Fla., it was the closest I've been to home in a long time."