Colonel at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City relieved of duties for allegedly not following safety protocols


Correction: The original version had an incorrect title for the Maj. Gen. which has been fixed.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A colonel at Tinker Air Force Base was relieved of his duties this week after he allegedly didn’t follow safety protocols.

An audio recording has also leaked, allegedly capturing audio of Col. Gary Donovan berating a crew of allegedly sleep-deprived airmen. Donovan was “moved to do other responsibilities on the installation,” according to an Air Force spokesperson. Articles from the Air Force Times and Task and Purpose said he tried to send aircrews on a July training exercise they felt was unsafe.

The full audio recording can also be heard by clicking the following link:

Donovan was relieved of his position with the 552nd Operations Group, a crew dealing with the AWACS jets. The Air Force Times article said it was due to Donovan skirting safety protocols and fostering an unhealthy workplace culture.

Photo goes with story
A colonel at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City was relieved of his duties for allegedly not following safety protocols.

Maj. Gen. Michael Koscheski, of the 15th Air Force, released the following statement:

“Maj. Gen. Michael Koscheski, Fifteenth Air Force commander, relieved Col. Gary Donovan, 552nd Operations Group commander, from command on November 8, 2021. In order to protect the privacy of the member, information regarding administrative action will not be released. Maj. Gen. Koscheski stated, “We need the men and women of the 552nd Operations Group to foster a culture of dignity and respect. This means living by Core Values every day and empowering subordinate leaders to promote these values through teaching, coaching and mentorship. It takes mutual respect to develop Airmen, our most precious resource. To grow this culture, we need all Airmen to embrace this mindset and know they are the decisive factor that makes us the world’s greatest Air Force.”


The Air Force Times said it all started when Donovan tried to send air crews on a July training exercise that they felt was unsafe. The airmen pushed back and canceled the exercise and complained of Donovan’s conduct, which forced an investigation by the Air Force. The article from Task and Purpose goes into more detail on the situation.

Tuesday, audio claiming to be of Donovan berating the crew surfaced. While KFOR has not been able to independently verify the audio, a voice can be heard saying, “At no point in my mind did I think I would walk in and find out that America’s wing, the operational heartbeat of the command-and-control enterprise of the free world, would show up and say, ‘I can’t execute this mission.’” He continued and said, “I failed to set the expectations so that you would take this as serious as you should.” Donovan can also be heard saying, “I can’t stand the thought that I’m leading people that don’t know the difference in responding to a national call for help and flying [unintelligible] out of Oklahoma.”

Another colonel has since taken over for the crew, and we were also told information on administrative action would not be released.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

More News

Pay it 4Ward

More Pay It 4ward

National News

More U.S. & World

Washington D.C.

More Washington

Your Local Election HQ

More Your Local Election HQ

Daily Oklahoma Coronavirus Data


Contact In Your Corner Team

Latest News

More News


image of QR Code

KFOR Digital Originals

More Digital Original

Follow @KFOR on Twitter