Lemon takes command of AF's most diverse training group

  • Published
  • By John Ingle
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The most diverse training group in the Air Force and one that embodies the Sheppard AFB motto of “Combat Capability Starts Here” welcomed a new commander July 8, 2021, during a change of command ceremony.

Col. Daniel W. Lemon took command of the 782nd Training Group, while Col. Loren B. Graham handed over the guidon after three years in the leadership position. Brig. Gen. Kenyon K. Bell, 82nd Training Wing commander, officiated the ceremony.

Lemon said he is honored to take the 782nd TRG guidon as a symbol of accepting command of the group that trains Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners in aircraft maintenance, civil engineering, telecommunications, logistics, cyber, and explosive ordnance device fields. He said he understands students will be sent into harm’s way upon graduation, but he knows they have been trained well and are equipped to face those challenges.

“It is an honor to lead the 782nd as we generate airpower for our Air Force,” he said. “Like General Bell said, Combat Capability Starts Here.”

As 782nd TRG commander, Lemon will oversee the training of more than 9,175 military and civilian Defense Department personnel in more than 233 initial and advanced in-residence and mobile training team courses. In addition to its three training squadrons on Sheppard, the group has an additional squadron located at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

Lemon most recently served as the deputy director of Requirements, Analysis and Resources for North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command at Peterson AFB, Colorado. He was responsible for developing requirements, identification of capability gaps, shaping and creating solutions and assessing the achievement of NORAD and USNORHTCOM objectives.

Bell foot-stomped the 82nd TRW motto during his address, adding that people should look no further than the mission of the 782nd TRG to see that axiom at work. He labeled the group as the “most dynamic and diverse,” and “not a one-trick pony.”

The general said Lemon is deserving of the leadership role of the 782nd TRG and his experience is a testament to his readiness for command. During his career, the colonel has commanded three squadrons and a group prior to his assignment at Sheppard, and he also served on two joint staff.

“Dan, this command deserves another engaged, high-energy leader and command team,” Bell said. “I charge you to take care of your mission and people, and leave it better than you found it.”

In regards to the 782nd under the direction of Graham, Bell said the achievements attained by squadrons in the group are “powerful testaments to enabled followers that reach their stride based on their leader.” He said Graham is a process-oriented leader who pushed long-reaching, high-yield initiatives that benefited the group and the installation.

For example, Bell said the Wing Airmen in Training Transition initiative started in conjunction with 82nd Training Operations is designed to move hundreds of graduated Airmen off the installation and to their next assignment in quick fashion, which will save the Air Force millions of dollars in opportunity costs. Graham also led the effort to turn around a struggling EOD preliminary course and improve the throughput of qualified students to 80 percent, removing Sheppard as the constraint in the EOD production pipeline.

As if that wasn’t enough, Graham was also integral in the installation’s COVID-19 response to ensure Sheppard’s national defense mission continued.

“After three years of command, the chapter you’ve written in the 782nd TRG book is replete with worthy material,” Bell said. “I humbly say I’m proud to have witnessed a significant portion of your leadership impact.”

Graham, whose next assignment takes him to U.S. Central Command in Florida, said he was honored to lead the men and women who executed the unique and diverse mission of the 782nd TRG. Although there were challenges placed before them, the group continued to move forward to get better and think outside the box to develop creative solutions.

He said the theme among the four squadrons of the 782nd TRG – the 364th Training Squadron, 365th TRS, 366th TRS and 368th TRS – was the willingness to jump on board former Air Education and Training Command Commander Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast’s edict to innovate.

“I think we’re on the right path to modernize our training,” Graham said. “It’s really about these Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines … and we have some Space Force training now. It’s all about them getting better training so that ready Airmen are ready for the fight.”