COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 7, 2020 —
It has been more than 25 years since Air Force Lt. Col. Samuel F. Payne Jr. graduated from Gahanna’s Lincoln High School, left for the U.S. Air Force Academy and began his incredible Air Force career.
In a ceremony Aug. 1 at the Defense Supply Center Columbus less than three miles from his old high school, Payne shared yet another meaningful career moment when he pinned on the rank of Colonel.
By his side were his wife Carrie, son Zac and a host of family members both in-person and dialing in virtually to celebrate his career achievement.
Navy Rear Adm. Kristen Fabry, DLA Land and Maritime commander, officiated the ceremony and provided opening remarks. “This is a significant promotion in a military officer’s career,” she said. “It brings with it expanded responsibility, increased demands on one’s time and greater expectations. To Carrie, Zac and the rest of the Payne family, I want to thank you personally in advance for sharing Sam with us for the next couple of years.”
Payne joined DLA Land and Maritime’s command team as chief of staff in June.
“Sam, now that you’re here and part of our DLA Land and Maritime team, I intend to get every drop of energy, creativity and innovation out of you I possibly can to help us continue to drive the DLA Land and Maritime mission forward,” Fabry added.
Navy Rear Adm. Kenneth Epps, deputy chief of staff for Fleet Ordnance and Supply/Fleet Supply Officer for U.S. Fleet Forces Command, delivered congratulatory remarks by video due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
“Starting off at the Air Force Academy, doing the great work you did for me and with me at the 647th in Oahu, I knew this day would come for you,” Epps said. “The higher up you go, the tighter our circles become so I know at some point our paths will cross again. Relish this day.”
One of the highlights of the day was the attendance of Payne’s 98-year-old grandfather – retired Army Col. James B. L. Payne – affectionately called “The Colonel.” In her remarks, Fabry recounted James Payne’s decades of service to the nation, the inspiration which set the younger Payne on his military journey.
Drafted in 1942, the elder Payne was assigned to the 588th Ordnance Ammunition Company as a private. While in Europe during World War II, his unit was assigned to Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, and supported the front lines of Normandy, northern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. After returning home from the war, James went on to join the Ohio National Guard, receive a direct commission as a second lieutenant, serve in the Korean War from 1951-1953 and eventually transfer into the U.S. Army Reserve.
While performing his military duties he also maintained a federal civil service career. Following 34 years of military service, James retired in 1978 from his final assignment as Assistance Chief of Staff for the 83rd Army Reserve Command’s Intelligence Division.
The elder Payne has participated in all but one promotion in his grandson’s military career. During this ceremony, the veteran pinned on his grandson’s new eagles on his flight cap prior to the ceremony, while the newly-promoted colonel’s wife and son pinned on his uniform rank.
Following the pinning, Fabry administered the Officer’s Oath and yielded the stage to her chief of staff.
Payne paid tribute to the many relatives and friends who helped his family along the way, saying that this day was an opportunity to say thank you for all they’ve done. As a self-professed proud Buckeye and product of Central Ohio, Payne said he benefitted from growing up surrounded by mentors like Dr. Eugene Jefferson, Peggy Cross and basketball coach Sam Davis as well as extended family that included stalwarts such as his parents Samuel and Debra Payne, grandparents Mose and Elizabeth Clark and “The Colonel” and Katherine Payne.
He also credited his mother- and father-in-law, Mike and Carol Herr, with their immense support.
“Mom and Mike Herr have been unsung heroes throughout our career – always willing to do anything to help us move, get established in a new location and just give us a place to enjoy vacation,” Payne said.
Payne recounted his family’s journey since his commissioning in 1999. Wife Carrie is also a Gahanna native and graduate of Lincoln High School. The pair have endured ten different military assignments taking them from Hawaii to Europe.
During his career, Payne has commanded three Logistics Readiness Squadrons and worked on Headquarters Air Staff in multiple capacities. He was competitively selected to participate in both the Air Force Logistics Career Broadening Program and the Air Force Strategic Policy Fellowship. He also served in a combined and joint position as an Alliance Planner for the Combined Forces Command at Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul, Korea. The colonel has deployed with the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command to Afghanistan. European Command’s Joint Movement Center in Stuttgart, Germany, and in two remote assignments to the Republic of Korea.
Prior to his DLA assignment, he was the Plans and Systems Integration Branch Chief at Headquarters Air Force in Washington, D.C.
Payne said his “home team” of Carrie and Zac – have spent a total of 661 days separated from him including times he’s attended conferences, training or contingency deployments not including two separate years in Korea.
“Carrie is the glue that keeps this family together,” he said. “Even through all of this you powered through.”
Payne said he’s proud of what his family has accomplished despite the many transitions, specifically his son’s achievements. Zac is an operatic vocalist and pianist who will attend the College of Wooster in northeastern Ohio this fall after graduating high school with a 4.2 grade point average.
With the return to his Central Ohio roots, Payne said he’s looking forward to his newest assignment with DLA Land and Maritime and what challenges it will bring but above all he’s grateful for the diverse family built throughout his career.
In his final words, he said to all, “I hope you take every opportunity to say thank you.”