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Sander assumes command of Operations Group

Lt. Col. Chris Sander assumed command of the 109th Operations Group from outgoing commander Col. Michael Steindl (right) with Col. Alan Ross (left), 109th Airlift Wing vice commander, officiating the change of command ceremony at Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York, on Sept. 13, 2015. Sander was previously the 109th Maintenance Group deputy commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Lt. Col. Chris Sander assumed command of the 109th Operations Group from outgoing commander Col. Michael Steindl (right) with Col. Alan Ross (left), 109th Airlift Wing vice commander, officiating the change of command ceremony at Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York, on Sept. 13, 2015. Sander was previously the 109th Maintenance Group deputy commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Lt. Col. Chris Sander speaks to the audience after he assumed command of the 109th Operations Group from outgoing commander Col. Michael Steindl during a change of command ceremony at Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York, on Sept. 13, 2015. Sander was previously the 109th Maintenance Group deputy commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

Lt. Col. Chris Sander speaks to the audience after he assumed command of the 109th Operations Group from outgoing commander Col. Michael Steindl during a change of command ceremony at Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York, on Sept. 13, 2015. Sander was previously the 109th Maintenance Group deputy commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Gizara/Released)

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Lt. Col. Christian Sander assumed command of the 109th Operations Group during a change of command ceremony here Sept. 13.

Sander, previous 109th Maintenance Group deputy commander, assumed command from Col. Michael Steindl in a ceremony officiated by Col. Alan Ross, 109th Airlift Wing vice commander. Changes of command are a military tradition representing the transfer of responsibilities from the presiding official to the upcoming official.

Ross spoke about the many leadership positions Sander has been in throughout the years including the opening expeditionary airlift squadron commander in Antarctica. He also spoke about Sander's role in the 1999 rescue of Dr. Jerri Nielsen from the South Pole.

"I just remember how professional he was in handling the crew and the mission," Ross said. "I knew from that experience that he would do a lot of good things for the unit and rise to higher levels and responsibility, and he's done that. I just want to thank you for that and for all you do in the future," he said to Sander.

Steindl, a 26-year veteran, will be retiring within the next couple months. Before relinquishing command, he thanked his family and the Operations Group for the years of support they had given him.

"I found out quite recently that leaving this position is at least as stressful as entering it," he said. "But I comfort myself knowing that the unit is in good hands. ... I cannot thank you all enough for making me so proud to have been your commander. It is truly the highlight of my career. You are an amazing group of Airmen that together do great things and amazing things."

"This is an extraordinary wing and we do amazing things and the Operations Group is a big part of that," Ross said. "I'd like to thank Colonel Steindl for his three years of leadership in the Operations Group and for all you've done to make us ready and relevant and continue on in the 21st Century."

After the Operations Group guidon was passed to Sander, he addressed the audience. Sander thanked the Maintenance Group for all they had done and his family for their support over the years before addressing the Operations Group.

"I have a clear vision of the future - it's now my job to support you as I've been supported in the past," he said. "Through fine mission sets, an effective chain of command, and empowering our young people, we're going to focus our incredible intellectual fire power on getting unified goals finished, and we're going to do a good job of it every single day. And every single day we're going to take care of each other so that we really enjoy our time here."