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Southerland Takes Command of 131st FSS

Lt. Col. Robert "South" Southerland takes command of the 131st Force Support Squadron from Col. Bill Boothman, acting 131st Mission Support Group commander, during a change of command ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Jan. 6, 2018.

Lt. Col. Robert "South" Southerland takes command of the 131st Force Support Squadron from Col. Bill Boothman, acting 131st Mission Support Group commander, during a change of command ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Jan. 6, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Halley Burgess)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo --

Lt. Col. Robert “South” Southerland took command of the 131st Force Support Squadron from Lt. Col. Catherine Sheskey at a ceremony during January drill here today.

Southerland was formerly 131st FSS director of personnel. Prior to that position, he served as director of plans and programs and director of staff for the active duty 509th Bomb Wing here. A command pilot, Southerland has more than 2,700 hours in the B-2, E-8A/C, T-38, T-1 and T-37 aircraft.

Col. Bill Boothman, acting 131st Mission Support Group commander and presiding officer over the ceremony, recounted Southerland’s career record of leadership and performance successes as a means of highlighting the transition in roles with the assumption of command.

“He’s making a real transition today … he’s going from action officer to commander,” Boothman said. “That’s a change of pace. Your new process is going to be people; not only because you’re a commander, but because you’re a commander of the FSS.

“The FSS is the nucleus of the wing. They touch everyone’s personal career … from cradle to grave. They own the student flight, all the way to the day you retire. That comes with a lot of responsibility,” he added, emphasizing Southerland’s readiness to take the helm. 

In his remarks after taking command, Southerland cited the vital role his squadron plays in the broader 131st Bomb Wing mission. 

“As happy as I am today, this ceremony is not about Rob Southerland … it’s about the 131st Force Support Squadron,” he said. “Our mission, our Airmen; this squadron is crucial to the mission that the 131st Bomb Wing is called upon to execute.

“Whether serving the citizens of Missouri during times of crisis, or when called upon by the president of the United States, the mission cannot be effectively executed without the men and women of the 131st Force Support Squadron,” Southerland said. “While this is something to be extremely proud of, it should at the same time instill a healthy sense of fear in each and every one of us, because much is expected of our team.

“As we begin this new chapter, I look forward to the challenges ahead” he added. “I look forward to seeing our airmen thrive; I look forward to working with each of you; and I look forward to leading our team as we strive to be ‘FSS: the best, serving the best!’”