WARNER ROBINS -- Not so long ago, Walter J. Lindsley was an 18-year-old high school graduate wondering why he was allowed to work on $30 million airplanes without supervision.
“How cool is that?” said Lindsley, now a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force. “I was just thrilled, and the challenges continued after that.”
On Monday, Lindsley accepted the challenge of leading Robins Air Force Base’s largest command, the 7,500-person Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. He and other top officials took pains to emphasize that Monday’s change-of-command ceremony was more like a transition of command.
“A change of command is not a change of mission,” Lindsley said during a ceremony at the Museum of Aviation. “We’re going to ensure we continue to build it right and build it to last.”
Lindsley, 50, took over the helm from the complex’s first commander, Brig. Gen. Cedric George. The complex was formed from an earlier incarnation, the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
George will be the Air Force’s director of system integration in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support.
Lindsley started as an enlisted man in 1982 straight out of high school, from a Rust Belt community in Illinois.
He maintained C-130s, which is one of the major tasks at Robins.
“What I was thinking at the time is I would go and serve my nation, try to go to college, try to get an education, and just see how far that would take me,” he told reporters before the ceremony.
He went far.
“The Air Force has been great to me, and great to my family,” he said.
His last job was director of staff at the Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Other jobs have ranged from commanding a maintenance squadron in South Korea to overseeing the 298th Nuclear Systems Wing, where he was responsible for all nuclear maintenance and sustainment in the continental U.S.
Lindsley’s boss, Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Litchfield, had been preparing him for more than a year for the Robins job. Litchfield, who commands the Air Force Sustainment Center overseeing three air logistics complexes, said George worked through furloughs, sequestration, union issues and changes in the economy. Robins is on the right path and doing the right things, and it needed a leader who can make it a strategic base everyone can be proud of.
“I can’t think of anybody better to take over down here,” Litchfield said.
Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms said the city had welcomed George and already is welcoming Lindsley. He predicted community support would continue.
“He seems to be following right along,” Toms said.
Lindsley said George has helped to change the culture and procedures at the logistics complex to ensure continual improvement, and he plans to continue that.
“What we will do is continue the efforts that have been done within the aircraft maintenance group and also turn our attention to our commodities and electronic and software maintenance groups to maximize their capacities and capabilities,” he said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.