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SMC Welcomes New Commander, First Woman to Lead Center

Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the first female Space and Missile System Center commander, accepts the command flag from Air Force Space Command commander, Gen. William Shelton, as SMC Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark Repp (far left) and outgoing SMC commander, Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan (far right) look on.  General Shelton officiated the change of command ceremony held on Fort MacArthur's parade grounds, June 3. (Photo by Joe Juarez)

Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the first female Space and Missile System Center commander, accepts the command flag from Air Force Space Command commander, Gen. William Shelton, as SMC Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark Repp (far left) and outgoing SMC commander, Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan (far right) look on. General Shelton officiated the change of command ceremony held on Fort MacArthur's parade grounds, June 3. (Photo by Joe Juarez)

Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, SMC's new commander, speaks at the change of command ceremony at Fort MacArthur, June 3. Only the fifth woman to achieve the rank of lieutenant general in the Air Force, General Pawlikowski is SMC's first woman commander. (Photo by Joe Juarez)

Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, SMC's new commander, speaks at the change of command ceremony at Fort MacArthur, June 3. Only the fifth woman to achieve the rank of lieutenant general in the Air Force, General Pawlikowski is SMC's first woman commander. (Photo by Joe Juarez)

Airmen standing in formation salute the flag during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumed command from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan at a ceremony officiated by Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, and attended by more than 500 family, friends, community leaders and SMC personnel. (Photo by Joe Juarez)

Airmen standing in formation salute the flag during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumed command from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan at a ceremony officiated by Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, and attended by more than 500 family, friends, community leaders and SMC personnel. (Photo by Joe Juarez)

Airmen from the 61st Air Base Group stand in formation during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. The ceremony was held at Fort MacArthur.  (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

Airmen from the 61st Air Base Group stand in formation during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. The ceremony was held at Fort MacArthur. (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

Outgoing SMC Commander, Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan inspects the troops during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. Serving as the SMC commander since May 2008, the general retired from the Air Force after a 36-year career. (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

Outgoing SMC Commander, Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan inspects the troops during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. Serving as the SMC commander since May 2008, the general retired from the Air Force after a 36-year career. (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

As Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumes command from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, one of Fort MacArthur's two ceremonial cannons fires. The Ceremonial Cannon Detail at Los Angeles AFB has the distinction of being one of the only organizations of its kind in the Air Force. The two French cannons were built in 1917 and 1918 respectively and are mounted on 1940 caissons. The cannons fire 75mm blank cannon shells. (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

As Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumes command from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, one of Fort MacArthur's two ceremonial cannons fires. The Ceremonial Cannon Detail at Los Angeles AFB has the distinction of being one of the only organizations of its kind in the Air Force. The two French cannons were built in 1917 and 1918 respectively and are mounted on 1940 caissons. The cannons fire 75mm blank cannon shells. (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

Musicians from the Band of the Golden West, play ceremonial music during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumed command from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan at the ceremony. (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

Musicians from the Band of the Golden West, play ceremonial music during the SMC change of command ceremony, June 3. Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumed command from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan at the ceremony. (Photo by Sarah Corrice)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center welcomed its first female commander at a change of command ceremony held at Fort Mac Arthur, June 3.

Lieutenant Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumed command from Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan at a ceremony officiated by Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, and attended by more than 500 family, friends, community leaders and SMC personnel.

This is Lt. Gen. Pawlikowski's second time at SMC. Previously, she served as the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing commander and as SMC's vice commander. She left here in 2008. At the change of command ceremony, she told the crowd that it is "great to be back."

"When I left LA three years ago, I had no idea just how much I would miss Los Angeles AFB. And the Change of Command ceremony is a superb reminder of all the things that I missed. First, there is the bright California sun. There is no better weather than Southern California, especially after a cold and snowy winter in Ohio. Second, there are the great communities of greater Los Angeles. There is nowhere in the U.S. with a more patriotic and caring community than Los Angeles. And then there is the outstanding team of space acquisition professionals represented by the men and women in formation. But, most importantly, there is the mission. I can think of no more important mission than delivering space capabilities to our men and women in the combat arms and to our country," she said.

General Pawlikowski as well as generals Shelton and Sheridan mentioned in their remarks the number of "firsts" accomplished by center personnel in the past three years.

"Under General Sheridan's leadership, you delivered the most robust and extensive space capability that our nation has ever enjoyed. From MILSATCOM where you completed the initial fielding of the WGS constellation and launched the first Advanced EHF satellite, to GPS where the last of the GPS IIRs went into service and the first GPS IIF was launched, to SBIR where the first GEO satellite was launched just weeks ago, every mission area has been enhanced. And, of course, the tremendous strides in space situational awareness with the delivery of the Space Based Surveillance satellite ushering in a new era in space capability for our Air Force and our nation, Pawlikowski said.

"As we celebrate these successes, we must also look to the future and recognize that this is not the time to rest on our laurels. For as these successes have been tremendous, the world is a very dynamic place and space systems face many new and looming challenges," she said.

General Pawlikowski concluded her remarks by saying that she is honored to be part of Team SMC.

"I hope to get to meet many of you in the coming weeks and look forward to taking on these new challenges with you," she said.

Only the fifth woman to achieve the rank of lieutenant general in the Air Force, General Pawlikowski entered the Air Force in 1978 after graduating from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She has held a variety of technical management and leadership positions - most recently as the commander of the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Paterson AFB, Ohio.

Outgoing SMC commander, Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, retired from the Air Force after a 36-year career. He was at SMC since May 2008. A separate retirement ceremony for him was held at Fort MacArthur, June 3.