Welcome Col. Allison Black: 1st SOW change of command ceremony

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natalie Fiorilli
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

When U.S. Air Force Col. Allison Black arrived for her first assignment at Hurlburt Field in 2000, becoming the base commander wasn’t on her radar.

Twenty-two years and several notable assignments later, Black officially assumed command of the 1st Special Operations Wing during a ceremony held in the Freedom Hangar at Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 21, 2022.

“I arrived here with the lofty goal of becoming an AC-130H Spectre Navigator,” Black said. “Never did I imagine that I would one day earn [this] privilege.”

The change of command ceremony saw Col. Jocelyn Schermerhorn pass the guidon after serving at the helm of the 1st SOW since June 2020. Lt. Gen. James Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony.

“There’s not an officer on the planet who has been built to command the 1st SOW more fully than Col. Allison Black,” Slife said.

“Her assignment as the vice commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing with our Special Tactics Airmen, and leading joint special operations forces as the Joint Task Force Indo-Pacific commander prepared her to lead this wing into the future.”

With 30 years of service, Black began her career as an enlisted Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist. In 1998, she completed Officer Training School and continued on to earn her wings through Joint Specialized Undergraduate Navigator Training in January 2000.

A Master Navigator, Black has more than 3,400 flight hours in the AC-130H Spectre Gunship and the U-28A Draco.

“Deploying extensively in the years after 9/11, first in the Gunship and later in the U-28, Allison accumulated 3,400 hours of flight time with an astounding 2,000 of them in combat,” Slife noted. “In my generation, I was a pretty credible combat pilot. I have 283 hours of combat time. Allison has over 2,000 hours of combat flying time.”

Prior to assuming command of the 1st SOW, Black served as vice commander of the 24 SOW at Hurlburt Field.

During the ceremony, Black noted that experiences both stateside and downrange, including positions with SERE, Special Tactics, and on staff with AFSOC, Air Staff and U.S. Special Operations Command prepared her for the challenges she will face in her new role.

“Each day I will work hard, leave it all out on the field and wake up to do it all over again,” Black said. “I’m not perfect, but I will show up and strive to be the leader you all deserve to be led by.”

With its motto of “Any Time, Any Place,” the 1st SOW’s mission is to provide airpower to conduct special operations missions worldwide. Operations under the wing involve air support, precision aerospace firepower, specialized aerospace mobility, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations and agile combat support, among others.

The 1st SOW is one of five active-duty special operations wings under AFSOC, and includes four groups and 26 squadrons.

“The weight of this role is not lost on me and I stand before you knowing we are going to have some incredible days with unforgettable missions,” Black said.

Along with serving as the wing commander, Black is also responsible for overseeing more than 40 tenant units at Hurlburt Field.

“I know we will have some moments that may shake us to our core, but I’m confident that this team – together – we are the required firepower to penetrate the hardest of targets,” Black said.