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Hundreds Witness Change in Leadership at Fort MacArthur Ceremony

Lt. Gen. John T. 'Tom' Sheridan accepts the SMC guidon from AFSPC Commander, General Robert Kehler signifying his acceptance of command as the new commander of Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center. Lt. Gen. Sheridan was formerly Deputy Director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Lt. Gen. John T. 'Tom' Sheridan accepts the SMC guidon from AFSPC Commander, General Robert Kehler signifying his acceptance of command as the new commander of Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center. Lt. Gen. Sheridan was formerly Deputy Director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE -- A change of command of Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center took place at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, Calif., under a bright, summer-like sky, May 16

Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel relinquished his command after completing a fourth tour of duty at the center to Lt. Gen. John T. "Tom" Sheridan in front of General Robert Kehler, commander, Air Force Space Command, and an audience of approximately 700 people. Distinguished visitors, aerospace industry partners and member of the Los Angeles Air Force Base community both uniformed and civilian made up the list of invitees to the center's milestone event.

"As I prepare to close this chapter in my life I can begin to reflect upon the many, many friendships and professional relationships that have had such a profound effect on my career," said General Hamel. "My thirty-six years of service has provided me with experiences and perspectives that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I wish all the best to General Sheridan as the newest member to the SMC family and to all of the men and women at SMC both military and civilian. I'm certain you will help General Sheridan take SMC to new heights."

As the commander of the command's center of excellence for space research, development and acquisition, General Hamel was at the forefront in leading a "back-to-basics" approach to space acquisition.

His leadership helped to bring focus to the center's history as the birthplace of military space and was marked by the dedication of the Schriever Space Complex and statue of Bernard A. Schriever, considered to be the father of Air Force missile and space programs.

In his opening remarks, General Sheridan expressed his happiness as the commander of the center and Program Executive Officer for National Security Space.

"Wow, this is a tremendously moving and rewarding experience for me; and I know it is for my family as well," said General Sheridan. "General Kehler, thank you for this wonderful opportunity to command the Space and Missile Systems Center. What an honor to be chosen to follow General Mike Hamel and lead this great and wonderful organization. I really look forward to working for you and with you, sir, and with our team to develop and ensure that our future systems, both those on the drawing board and those in production are nothing but perfect for our warfighters.

"To the Hamels, Mike and Linda, thank you for your devoted service to our Air Force and our country for the past 36-plus years and for leading SMC so successfully over the past three years. You have made an incredibly positive impact on National Security Space programs across the board and certainly at SMC."

After the center's guide-on was passed to General Sheridan, a lone cannon fired one shot surprising spectators signifying the end of the ceremony.

The day was marked with another significant milestone in General Hamel's career as he accepted a certificate signifying his retirement after 36 years of stellar service to his country. In honor of his retirement, a battery of 155mm howitzers from Batter B, 144th Field Artillery, California Army National Guard fired a 15-gun salute. Additionally, an F-16 from the 445th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base conducted a late afternoon flyover in the General's honor.

General Sheridan was formerly the deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office where he assisted the director in the day-to-day direction of the NRO and served as the senior Air Force officer for Air Force civilian and uniformed personnel assigned to the organization.