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81st MDG welcomes new commander

Two soldiers wearing masks holding onto a flag Air Force Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, passes the 81st Medical Group guidon to Air Force Col. Christopher Estridge, incoming 81st MDG commander, during the 81st MDG change of command ceremony inside the Don Wiley Auditorium at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, July 21, 2020. The passing of the guidon is a ceremonial symbol of exchanging command from one commander to another.

Air Force Col. Christopher Estridge, incoming 81st Medical Group commander, took command from Col. Beatrice Dolihite, outgoing 81st MDG commander, during a change of command ceremony at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi on July 21.

Air Force Col. Heather Blackwell, 81st Training Wing commander, presided over the ceremony.

Before relinquishing command, Dolihite thanked the men and women of the 81st MDG who have had an impact during her time here.

“I am very excited and grateful to be passing the command and directorship to Estridge,” said Dolihite. “As I stand before you today I am extremely proud to be handing off the absolute best medical group in the Air Force and best Defense Health Agency market in the Defense Department. Dragon Medics and Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit sailors, all of you are leaders. The coastal Mississippi market is the best because of you, because of each and every one of you and your leadership. Thank you all. It has truly been an honor to be your commander and market director.”

Dolihite’s next assignment will be at Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Estridge, was previously assigned to the 673rd Medical Group at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, before moving to Mississippi to take command of the 81st MDG. Estridge expressed his determination to continue the success the medical group has had in the past.

“To the men and women of the 81st MDG and the coastal Mississippi market, let me say that my role as commander and market director is to support each of you and to help us build on your past successes for an even better future as we all strive to provide efficient, effective and most importantly safe patient care while ensuring to support our nation when called upon,” explained Estridge.

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