Malmstrom changes command

  • Published
  • By Heather Heiney
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, 20th Air Force commander, facilitated a change in command of the 341st Missile Wing and Malmstrom Air Force Base from Col. Anita Feugate Opperman to Col. Barry Little during a ceremony at Medal of Honor Park today.

The ceremony began with the singing of the National Anthem followed by remarks from Lutton and then the presentation of a Legion of Merit award to Feugate Opperman.

“Two years ago we handed [Feugate Opperman] the flag to the 341st Missile Wing, one of the three most powerful combat units in our United States Air Force and [she] has been nothing but magnificent as far as a leader, a mentor and a coach,” Lutton said. “Thank you for what you’ve done.”

The award was presented for her accomplishments during her command of the 341st MW, beginning Aug. 5, 2020, including her leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering an environment of diversity, equity and inclusion and leading the wing to win a fourth consecutive Blanchard Trophy for best intercontinental ballistic missile wing.

“I want to thank all the Airmen of Malmstrom,” Feugate Opperman said. “Everything that was read in my Legion of Merit was done by you; I’ve just had the great fortune to help support and advocate for you. I will never forget this opportunity [to be your Wing commander].”

After departing Malmstrom, Feugate Opperman will go on to the Pentagon to serve on the Joint Staff as assistant deputy director of command, control and nuclear operations.

After the award presentation came the official changing of command and passing of the guidon, a tradition dating back to 1775 that allows members of a unit to officially recognize the authority of the incoming commander and honor the service of the outgoing commander.

Before taking command, Little was the 20th Air Force vice commander where he worked with Lutton to oversee the operation, maintenance, security and support of the Air Force’s ICBM force. Now, at the 341st MW, Little will focus his responsibility to one 13,800 square mile missile complex and oversee the wing’s mission of defending America with combat-ready Airmen and ICBM forces.

After officially taking command, Little had the opportunity to address Team Malmstrom for the first time.

“I am looking forward to continuing that tremendous partnership that you’ve built over the last 80 years between the base and the [Great Falls] community,” he said. “To say that I’m excited to be here, to say that I’m humbled to be here is an understatement. It is an absolute honor and privilege to be entrusted with the command of one of the most powerful combat wings in the greatest air force on earth.”