GREAT FALLS — On Sunday, the 120th Airlift Wing gave a parting salute to State Command Chief Doug Otto during a live-streamed ceremony.
Otto told MTN during his last official week with the Guard the decision to wrap up his career with the Guard was bittersweet: “When I took this (uniform) off for the last time in January, it was tough taking that sucker off,” he said. “And when I finished folding it up it kind of gave me chills a little bit, just figuring out that I wouldn't be putting it back on.”
After finishing up active duty service in the Air Force, Otto transferred to the Montana Air National Guard to pursue his interest in law enforcement. Over the next 31 years, he advanced through the ranks, eventually becoming the Chief Enlisted Manager for the 120th Security Forces Squadron and the Joint Force Headquarters Squad, and culminating in earning the top enlisted position the Montana Air National Guard.
“It was great it was a unique perspective getting to work with both Army and Air (National Guard),” he said.
Otto said his most recent role as the Senior Enlisted Leader for the MT ANG was an incredible honor. “To fulfill this role as a Guardsman was a challenge,” he said. “I had some great people that mentored me and built me along the way,” he said. “My family was amazing in supporting me along the way, so to get that opportunity and to add in even more so the police dept- the support that they gave.”
Otto is the Great Falls Police Department’s Public Information Officer, and says being part of the military and law enforcement branches has made him a better leader.
“The core values of the Air Force - integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do- they tie directly to what we do in the law enforcement world and ours are community, compassion, and courage for the police department.”
There have been many highlights over his 31 years in the Guard, but Otto says the proudest moment for him has been seeing one of his sons follow in his footsteps.
“My youngest, Eric, is a member of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron,” he said.
Otto believes it's time for someone new to come into the role of State Command Chief to continue the Guard’s mission of service at home and abroad.
“It’s time for somebody to bring some new ideas into that role at the Guard,” he said. “(It’s) been a blast doing it though.”