179th Airlift Wing Commander, Col. Gary A. McCue, announced that he has accepted a position at the National Guard Bureau in Washington D.C. and has established a planned departure of the Ohio Air National Guard unit in Mansfield in June 2016. There will be a final flight of the C-130H Hercules prior to his departure in early June as well as a formal Change of Command Ceremony.
McCue has served as the Wing Commander since July 2010, guiding the unit through times of change and great adversity. McCue was given a herculean task of transitioning from a unit that had supported the C-130 Hercules for 35 years to a brand new air frame-the C-27J Spartan. He stepped up to lead in a time when his unit needed strong leadership most. The success of the unit was in the caring hands of someone who had always called the unit home.
McCue began his Air Force career with the unit as an enlisted Crew Chief in 1983. “I take great pride in that.” McCue said, “I came into the unit as a slick sleeve in 1983 and this unit is my family.”
A “slick sleeve” is an endearing term used to describe an entry level enlisted airman who has not yet earned their first promotion. The first promotion from E-1 to E-2 comes with a stripe on the uniform sleeve. McCue fondly recalls his time as an enlisted mechanic working on the C-130, “I was going to school at Kent State and I knew I wanted to stay in the Guard and get that commission so I could fly.”
After graduating from Kent State University in 1988, McCue pursued a commission as an Air Force Officer and became a Second Lieutenant on Aug. 3, 1989. By 1991, McCue was a trained pilot operating a C-130 Hercules.
Over the course of his flying career with the 164th Airlift Squadron (AS), McCue worked his way through the ranks and positions until he was the 164th AS Commander in February 2004. McCue progressed to be the 179th Operations Group Commander in June 2007 and later the 179th Airlift Wing Commander in July 2010.
The arrival of the C-27J Spartan would cause a great deal of controversy at a national level and McCue faced very tough decisions in his leadership. The eventual decision was reached to bring the C-130H Hercules back to Mansfield and it was welcomed by the support of the unit and elected leaders of the State of Ohio.
The unit has thrived under the leadership of McCue, with over 400 new airmen in the past two years and well over 100% manning. The transition from the C-27J Spartan back to the C-130H Hercules exceeded expectations, and half of the fleet successfully deployed in support of overseas operations. “These unit members are the best in the business! They have incredible attitudes, and a strong sense of resilience. I know I share the sentiment of our community, and leadership-we are very proud of these Air Men and Women.”