Former 919 SOW commander dies

Brig. Gen. Mark Stogsdill, former 919th Special Operations Wing commander, is shown in a photo published in his unit's magazine in 2004. Stogsdill helped pioneer what is known today as the Total Force Integration association between active duty Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Force Reserve Command units at Duke Field. (Courtesy photo)

Brig. Gen. Mark Stogsdill, former 919th Special Operations Wing commander, is shown in a photo published in his unit's magazine in 2004. Stogsdill helped pioneer what is known today as the Total Force Integration association between active duty Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Force Reserve Command units at Duke Field. (Courtesy photo)

DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- The 919th Special Operations Wing mourns the passing of one of its former commanders -- Brig. Gen. Mark Stogsdill.

Stogsdill passed away July 19, 2016 at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.

Stogsdill assumed command of the 919th SOW in 1998 during a period of significant change in the unit's history. The wing had recently converted from the AC-130A Spectre gunship to the MC-130E Combat Talon and MC-130P Combat Shadow.

He was a pioneer in what is now known as Total Force Integration as he spearheaded the association between Air Force Special Operations Command's 5th Special Operations Squadron and 9th SOS at Eglin Air Force Base and the Air Force Reserve Command's 711th SOS and 8th SOS at Duke Field. These associations involved moving Reservists to Eglin and active duty members to Duke Field in order to create efficiencies and synergies across these low-density, high-demand assets.

"General Stogsdill's leadership helped shape the 919 SOW into the successful organization it is today," said Col. James Phillips, 919th SOW commander. "From the early associations with the active duty squadrons through the combat deployments after 9/11, he enabled our Citizen Air Commandos to directly contribute to the global mission of United States Special Operations Command and meet our nation's strategic objectives."

Stogsdill faced further challenges following the 9/11 attacks as the 919th SOW was mobilized and deployed overseas. For two years, he led the unit through numerous combat deployments where the wing proved tremendously successful in its missions and became one of the most highly decorated wings in the Air Force Reserve.

He earned his commission in 1969 through Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas. He completed Undergraduate Navigator Training the following year at Mather AFB, California.

After six years on active duty, Stogsdill joined the Air Force Reserve in 1975. He was a master navigator with more than 6,500 flying hours including 450 combat hours flown in AC-130 Spectre gunships during the Southeast Asia conflict.

His last assignment came in 2004 when he was selected to serve as the commander of the 94th Airlift Wing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, after successfully completing his command tour at Duke Field.

Stogsdill retired from military service two years later and returned to Northwest Florida where he remained active in the local community. He served as a member of both the Crestview Military Affairs Council and the Emerald Coast Military Affairs Council, as well as supporting our veterans and military families as a board member of the Fisher House.

"Over the last few years, General Stogsdill came by my office on a regular basis to see how the wing was doing," said Phillips. "The main purpose of these visits was to see what we needed and what he or the organizations that he represented could do for the men and women of the 919th SOW. Although he had been retired for many years, he still cared deeply about this unit and worked hard to ensure the 919th's mission was understood and valued by residents throughout the Emerald Coast."

This selfless service made an indelible impression on Phillips and many others who served with Stogsdill.

"General Stogsdill truly epitomized the Air Force core value of Service Before Self," said Phillips. "Without question, the Northwest Florida community has lost an outstanding leader and the 919th SOW has lost a great friend."

For Lt. Col. Thomas Miller, the 919th SOW Chief of Plans and Programs, a standout example of Stogsdill’s leadership came on 9/11. The wing had just completed what he described as a grueling eight months of formal inspections and a major deployment to the Middle East.

“The wing’s leadership was gathered in the command post, reviewing the lessons learned from those experiences,” Miller recalled. “Mid-way through the meeting, we looked up at a television and saw the second aircraft hit the World Trade Center. At that point, General Stogsdill took a deep breath, pushed aside all the paperwork and told everyone that our lives and future had just taken a huge change.

“He immediately led the wing through preparations for mobilization in support of the upcoming battle, “Miller continued. “Within a few days, we started mobilizing and deploying our people to the Middle East to begin our nation's Global War on Terrorism. His inspirational leadership during that trying time was key to our successes. We have lost a great leader and true friend, and he will be dearly missed.”