LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
Col. Shawn Keller assumed command of the 123rd Mission Support Group during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here Jan. 21, replacing Col. George Imorde, who has been named vice commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing.
Keller, a former Marine with 37 years of military experience, most recently served as deputy commander of the 123rd MSG. Under Keller’s leadership, the unit supported more than 1,200 Air National Guard members with a broad range of programs.
Col. Bruce Bancroft, wing commander, welcomed Keller to group command.
“We're all extremely proud to see you stepping into this position without hesitation," Bancroft said during the ceremony. “There could not be a better, more experienced officer to assume this command and continue a legacy of excellence. From military personnel flight commander, to State Partnership Program director for Ecuador, to installation deployment officer during the busiest hurricane season on record, to logistics readiness squadron commander, to MSG deputy, you have punched the ticket for experience.
“This job will prove to be the most challenging position you've ever had,” Bancroft continued. “But I'll also wager it'll be the best job you've ever had. You also know that you're blessed with an incredible team of professionals, and I look forward to the successes the MSG will achieve under your watch.”
Imorde, who led the 123rd MSG as commander since 2020, expressed his gratitude to the group’s Airmen, who execute the most diverse mission sets on base, from security forces, civil engineering and contracting to logistics, communications, services and personnel.
“I'm constantly amazed how much the MSG can do with the small staff that you’re allotted to accomplish the mission,” he told the audience. “These missions are not easy things, and you do it every day to support the base and its 1,200 Airmen.”
Imorde also congratulated Keller on his new assignment.
“You are undoubtedly the right guy for the job,” he said. “Two commands in the group, over 30 years of service, almost 20 years in the MSG. I think you're going to figure it out pretty quick. Thank you for always having my back the last 10 years.”
Imorde then relinquished the group’s guidon to Bancroft, who bestowed it upon Keller, formally recognizing the transfer of power.
“To the men and women of the 123rd Mission Support Group, becoming your commander is a privilege of lifetime,” Keller said. “I value each and every one of you, and I'm continuing all the great work that you accomplished day in and day out to not only keep the base running, but also the sacrifices you make to provide stellar deployed support to our nation’s war fighters.
“As your commander, preparing the mission support group for what lies ahead will be my number-one priority each and every day. One thing you will get from me is honesty, and I can tell you now, the next few years will not be easy. I will continue to ask more from each of you, and know I will fight continuously to provide you the resources you need to do your job.
“I couldn't be more proud and humbled by the opportunity to help lead the way. Thanks for all that you do and will continue to do to make the Mission Support Group and our Air Force great.”
Keller entered the military in 1985 by enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. He joined the Kentucky Air National Guard in 1988, initially serving as an enlisted Airman in the supply and fuels career fields.
He was commissioned through the Air National Guard Academy of Military Science in June 2001 and was assigned to Joint Force Headquarters as military personnel management officer. Keller has also served command assignments in the 123rd Mission Support Flight and 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron.
Keller recently deployed to Joint Base McGuire Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, in support of Operation Allies Welcome, where he was assigned as deputy mayor of Village 3, Task Force Liberty. He and his team of 375 Airmen provided food, shelter and safe haven for more than 7,500 Afghan refugees, working with the Departments of State and Homeland Security to ensure their smooth transition to resettlement locations across the United States.
Imorde entered the U.S. Army in 1997 following graduation from the University of Kentucky and commissioning through the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He served as an officer in the Adjutant General Corps of the active-duty Army with assignments at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
He joined the Kentucky Air National Guard in 2007 and has served as military personnel management officer; wing executive staff officer; and commander of the 123rd Force Support Squadron and 123rd Security Forces Squadron.
Imorde has deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, first as an Army officer in Djibouti, and later as an Air Force officer at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where he served with a joint special operations task force supporting U.S. Special Operations Command and its sub-unified component organization, Joint Special Operations Command.