Top photo: Col. Mitch Johnson, left, accepts the unit colors from Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, N.D. adjutant general, officially recognizing him as the incoming commander of the N.D. National Guard’s 119th Wing, March 6, 2021. Johnson assumed command from Col. Darrin Anderson, far left, who has served as the 119th Wing commander since Aug. 4, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Baardson)
Happy Hooligans Welcome new commander
The North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing, known as the “Happy Hooligans”, welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony held at the Air National Guard base in Fargo, on March 6, 2021. (U.S. National Guard story and photos by Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Baardson, 119th Wing)
Col. Darrin Anderson relinquished command to Col. Mitch Johnson. Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, N.D. National Guard adjutant general, presided over the ceremony. A change of command ceremony is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority from one officer to another and is witnessed by members of the unit.
Outgoing 119th Wing commander, Col. Darrin Anderson, left, and incoming commander, Col. Mitch Johnson.
Anderson began his military career in 1983 when he enlisted in the N.D. Air National Guard as a Security Specialist. He was commissioned in February 1995 at the Air National Guard Academy of Military Science and served in a myriad of assignments with the 119th Wing. These assignments included serving as an intelligence officer, and various aircraft maintenance positions and a tour as deputy commander of the 119th Maintenance Group. Anderson commanded the 119th Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Group prior to assuming command of the 119th Wing on Aug. 4, 2018. Anderson is a 1987 graduate of North Dakota State University, and a 2012 graduate of the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Throughout his time as the 119th Wing commander, Anderson oversaw the successful execution of continuous federal missions while supporting the longest running domestic emergency response in the history of the North Dakota National Guard- the global pandemic of COVID-19. The Wing earned its 21st and 22nd Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards during his tenure as commander.
Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, right, N.D. adjutant general, presents Col. Darrin Anderson the Legion of Merit for his achievements as commander of the 119th Wing.
Johnson began his career in the U.S. Air Force when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1997 from the U.S. Air Force ROTC Detachment 400 at Michigan Technological University. He was selected for an Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Civilian Institution Program and earned his Master’s Degree in 1998. Upon completion of pilot training, Johnson served in multiple flying assignments with the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command (AMC), Air Education and Training Command (ATEC) and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) during his 12 years of active duty service in the U.S. Air Force. He has commanded at both the group and squadron level, piloted tactical airlift, special operations attack and remotely piloted aircraft worldwide and is credited with overseas service on six deployments. Johnson commanded the 119th Operations Group and was the vice commander of the 119th Wing prior to assuming command.
Col. Mitch Johnson addresses members of the 119th Wing moments after assuming command.
HOOLIGANS EARN 22nd AIR FORCE OUTSTANDING UNIT AWARD
The North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing, known as the Happy Hooligans, formally accepted the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) for the 22nd time during a ceremony at their Fargo air base, March 6, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard story and photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general, placed the award on the 119th Wing’s colors, commending the Hooligan Airmen for their exceptional service and mission accomplishment which contributed to this high-level recognition. The AFOUA is awarded by the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force to numbered units of the active-duty Air Force, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard that have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement, including successful involvement with combat operations or exposure to hostile actions by an opposing foreign force.