Col. Doug Schwartz: Meet the new 927th Airwing Commander at MacDill Air Force Base

6:06 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- There's some new brass in town at MacDill AFB in South Tampa.

Col. Doug Schwartz is now in charge of the 800+ people under his command of the 927th Air Refueling Wing.

It's actually a return to MacDill for Schwartz, who helped start up the air wing in 2007, then left for a couple of years to serve in California and is now back as the Wing's commander.

Hardly a part-time job, "We can operate 24/7, 365," says Col. Schwartz.

Although most under Schwartz's command are reservists, they work seamlessly with the active duty members of MacDill's 6th Air Mobility Wing. The groups fly re-fueling missions.

Most of the missions support training, but they will fly into combat too, if needed.

He says his goal is to keep the Wing working at a world-class performance level ahead of its next inspection in about two years.

"I'm very excited, humbled, honored, to have this opportunity," said Col. Schwartz.

We asked Col. Schwartz about the recent decision not to bring the military's newest generation of refueling aircraft -- the KC-46 --  to MacDill.

It's a decision made above his pay-grade, said Col. Schwartz, but seemed confident the base's fleet of KC-135's will be here and in use for quite some time.

The aircraft, originally designed in the 1950's have been re-worked, re-tooled and technologically rival almost anything out there. Plus they're versatile workhorses.

"I want to say the comment I've heard from senior leadership, the last person's child who will fly the KC-135 has not been born yet," he said.

Col. Schwartz admitted he wasn't all that familiar with a new rule in effect, requiring pilots to check in one additional time with MacDill's tower.

The recent change comes after a C-17 from a visiting base mistakenly landed at Peter O. Knight airport on Davis Islands back in July.

"The air traffic control folks do try to put all the redundancy they can into their procedures and processes to make sure we can eliminate that kind of confusion," said Schwartz.

And then of course, there's the social relationship between MacDill and Tampa. Strained, perhaps, after the David Petraeus scandal involving socialite Jill Kelley.

Don't look for Schwartz to be sporting any beads at Gasparilla parties along Bayshore.

"No, I don't think that's Doug Schwartz," laughed Col. Schwartz.

But under his command, the Colonel says he'll encourage a continued relationship with members of Tampa's civilian and business community.

"True Patriots," he calls them, and expects no formal change in policy.

"I think I need to build on the great relationship we have with the community folks and make sure that we don't step back from that."

Col. Schwartz has moved around quite a bit with the military, and has only a few years left in his career before retirement.

He said he and his wife are big fans of the Bay area, so don't be surprised to see them here well beyond his assignment as the commander of the 927th.

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