Meet the new 87th Mission Support Group Commander

By Airman 1st Class Matt Porter | Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs | Aug. 3, 2020

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs —

The 87th Mission Support Group recently welcomed its new commander, U.S. Air Force Col. Janette D. Ketchum, to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. 

Ketchum now leads a team of more than 3,100 personnel and is responsible for security forces, force support, communications, contracting and logistics readiness squadrons supporting 52,000 personnel across the DoD’s sole tri-service installation. 

“I look forward to the opportunity, along with Col. Hall, the deputy commander of the 87th MSG, to support the diverse mission here with the other four wings,” said Ketchum. “We hope to build upon the successes the MSG has had by doing the basics, taking care of the unit, our Airmen, and our facilities.” 

The San Antonio native comes from a military family with her father being a Vietnam veteran. She credits her background as an influence for joining the United States Army Reserve at the young age of 17. 

“We were a working-class family and my father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, as many of that generation in the military did,” said Ketchum. “There was a different reception to veterans and the military in general compared to today, but I gravitated towards becoming an officer regardless.” 

Ketchum’s goal was realized when she attained a Bachelor of Arts, Political Science degree from Texas A&M University and commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1997. 

Since then, she has served in logistics readiness roles at various levels over her 23-year career. 

“Being in a forward support company this is something I tell everyone at career day events, you’ll learn to lead people,” said Ketchum. “As a leader I uphold the standard. The standard is high and that’s not going to change.” 

Ketchum admits that good leadership is essential to any successful mission, but also believes that leadership comes in different shapes and sizes. 

“People gravitate towards leaders at all levels, and there can be leaders regardless of rank or experience,” said Ketchum. “Fostering this kind of informal leadership among people doing the day-to-day makes sense in terms of mentorship.” 

Aside from an accomplished career, which includes the Bronze Star Medal, Ketchum views herself as being straightforward, down-to-earth and above all, a loving mother. 

“With me, what you see is what you get,” said Ketchum. “I’m very straight forward, I have to keep it real, but I really do care about what I do and am honored to do it.” 

Ketchum, an advocate of compassionate leadership, stresses that her care extends not only to her role as a commander, but personally to everyone who is a part of the MSG. 

“We take care of the people that take care of the mission, and it’s not just lip service, we really do care,” said Ketchum. “If it’s hot out and you’re walking alongside the road, I’d offer to give you a ride, because we are like a family in the Air Force.”