Female Moss Point native named new commander of Keesler medical squadron

At Keesler, she started out as a staff sergeant and wore many hats from there to Robins Air Force Base and even the Pentagon.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:57 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Col. Ada Collier is reporting for duty this month as the new commander of Keesler Air Force Base’s 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron.

Former commander Col. Stuart Rubio handed off the guidon during an Assumption of Command ceremony on Aug. 6.

“I think it brought my career to a full circle,” she told WLOX.

Col. Collier joined the military after graduating from Moss Point High School in 1983.

At Keesler, she started out as a staff sergeant and wore many hats from there to Robins Air Force Base and even the Pentagon.

A defining moment in her career is when she was deployed to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany about 19 years ago.

She nursed military members back to health on the back of an aircraft as they traveled home.

She deployed three more times since then on the same mission.

“And that’s exactly what this mission is here,” she said. “We are helping to prepare the patients, prepare our airman, prepare sailors, our soldiers and getting them back home safely. And that’s our responsibility.”

When COVID-19 struck, she said Aeromedical Staging Squadron was right where she wanted to be.

Throughout her career, Col. Collier has witnessed more women joining the ranks, and that’s something she even encourages off base.

In her spare time, she heads a nonprofit with her sister geared toward promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics for young girls.

“Things have changed,” she said. “It’s unlimited now. Whatever any young woman, any young man, whatever they desire to pursue, opportunities are there.”

Col. Collier’s achievement also highlights the success of a soldier raised by a single mother.

“There are five of us, and she supported us in our efforts as far as getting an education,” she said. “And a great deal of that stemmed from my grandmother saying, ‘No matter what happens, your education is very, very important.’”

She said she initially joined the military as a way to help pay for college.

“What really helped me is that I had a lot of strong military leaders, particularly women leaders, to help guide me, to help, you know, mentor me along my career,” Col. Collier said.

Now, she aims to be that support system for her team, and some of those in her unit call Moss Point home, too.

“To be able to not only lead a great group of airmen, but then also those airmen are from my hometown. They’re the ones that I know,” she said. “It is an honor be here as their commander and to be that example to say, ‘Hey, you know what? If I did it, you can do it as well.’”

Clinical Nurse Maj. Angela Lewis-Young joined the unit in 1999. She first crossed paths with Col. Collier as she passed through on active duty.

“I knew that she was from Moss Point, so she’s always been a mentor to me even though I didn’t know her,” Lewis-Young said. “And now that she’s done a 360 and she’s back here, I’m finally being able to work with her. She’s an awesome leader. She’s a great nurse.”

“I know that she’s going to be providing mentoring just on our first phone conversation,” Senior Master Sgt. Brandi Escobar said. “She definitely wants to empower the airmen.”

Senior Master Sgt. Escobar is new to the team. Now overseeing the administration side of their medical mission, she said she’s also inspired by her own mother who served in the army for three decades.

“It’s nice to have that reflection, knowing that the expectation isn’t on a gender. The expectation is on your leadership capabilities,” she said.

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