May 13, 2016 (ST. PAUL, Minnesota) — During a change of command ceremony, April 16, 2016, at the 133rd Airlift Wing’s South Hangar, Col. Daniel E. Gabrielli took charge of the 133rd Airlift Wing from the outgoing commander, Col. James T. Johnson.
The military tradition of passing the unit guidon from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander was carried out with prestige by the presiding officer, Brig. Gen. David Hamlar, Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Air, with the assistance of Command Chief Master Sgt. Paul Kessler. Members of the wing, past and present, as well as friends and family filled the entire hangar to witness the event and to pass on well-wishes to both men.
“To all of you who make up the collective 133rd Airlift Wing, you are the heart and soul of the machine which accomplishes the mission on a day-to-day basis,” said Gabrielli during his address to the Airmen. “My challenge to you all as well as myself, is to keep our focus simple. Be the best you can be and continually ask yourself – are you as ready as you can possibly be to execute your wartime mission?”
Gabrielli began his military career in the U.S. Air Force in 1989 as a T-37 Instructor Pilot at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. In 1995 he moved on to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where he became a C-5 Galaxy Aircraft Commander. In 1998, Gabrielli transitioned from the Active Duty Air Force and joined the Minnesota Air National Guard.
In 2013 Gabrielli assumed command of the 133rd Airlift Wing Operations Group. In 2014 he accepted a new responsibility at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. as the Deputy Director for Air, Space and Cyber Operations for the entire Air National Guard until his return here to the 133rd as the new wing commander.
Gabrielli has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Shining Hope, Joint Forge, Joint Enterprise and Coronet Oak, serving as an aircrew member and in a variety of operational staff positions. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours.
“I was excited when you were selected because I knew you had the personality, the experience and the drive to raise this wing to even higher levels,” Johnson said to Gabrielli in his outgoing speech. “The men and women of the 133rd Airlift Wing have indeed done that. They’ve left it better than they found it three years ago, and I’m sure they will do that during the time that you are here.”
During his three-year tenure as wing commander, ‘Leave this place better than you found it,’ has been Johnson’s motto. “To the men and women of the 133rd Airlift Wing, it has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve with you and most importantly, serve for you over the last three years,” he said.
Through his Air Force career, Johnson accumulated more than 4,000 military flight hours. His time in the skies won’t end with his military retirement, however, as Johnson will return to his job as a full-time pilot with Delta Airlines where he has been employed since 1997.
Early on in Johnson’s military career, he recalls a quote given to him during flight training that stuck, ‘Don’t run out of family before you run out of Air Force.’ Although Johnson will still be flying, he plans to uphold those words and spend more time with his family.
Gabrielli says he is looking forward to keeping the momentum that Johnson has built with the 133rd through the years ahead.
“I will strive to be the ‘collective you,’ advocating for all that you need to be successful in executing and performing our mission, while at the same time I will make it my duty to be the deflector of all that detracts from, or stands in the way of your ability to keep that sacred simple focus on training for, and executing your role in the wing’s mission,” said Gabrielli.
by Cpt. Winnie Tan
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs