Dover Air Force Base colonel joining Coons at State of the Union

Col. Dawn Lancaster, shown with Sen. Chris Coons, who is retiring after 26 years of military service, led the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, or AFMAO, at Dover Air Force Base from 2016 to 2019. (Submitted photo)

WASHINGTON – Air Force Col. Dawn Lancaster will be Sen. Chris Coons’ guest for tonight’s State of the Union Address, which is scheduled to take place in the U.S. Capitol.

Col. Lancaster, who is retiring after 26 years of military service, led the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, or AFMAO, at Dover Air Force Base from 2016 to 2019.

“Col. Lancaster is a decorated and distinguished military officer, and I’m honored that she’s joining me for the State of the Union Address,” Sen. Coons said. “While stationed at Dover Air Force Base, she dedicated herself to the mission of ensuring dignified transfers for all our fallen heroes, and I’m deeply thankful for her incredible leadership there.”

While at DAFB, Col. Lancaster led the mortuary team as they honored 253 fallen U.S. service members and civilians. She led 182 dignified transfers, hosted 331 distinguished visitors, and provided care for more than 1,050 family members of the fallen.

“I am truly honored to attend the State of the Union address as Senator Coons’ guest,” Col. Lancaster said. “I am humbled at the opportunity and proud to represent our military and especially Dover AFB whose airmen work tirelessly to ensure global mobility and care for our nation’s fallen with Dignity, Honor, and Respect.”

As commander, Col. Lancaster reorganized AFMAO, started a plans and readiness division, and established an operating location in the Pacific – all to improve mortuary standardization, accountability, and support for U.S. military commanders around the world. Under her leadership, AFMAO earned “highly effective” ratings during unit inspections and scored a “100 percent” during the Office of the Secretary of Defense Mortuary Inspection in 2019.

Col. Lancaster is a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received as a result of the 1996 Khobar Towers Bombing in Saudi Arabia. Her other decorations include the Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, and various commendation, achievement, and expeditionary medals.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, will be joined by his guest, former Commander of the USS Delaware Captain Brian P. Hogan of the U.S. Navy, at the State of the Union address.

Capt. Hogan relinquished command of the USS Delaware (SSN 791), a Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine, to Commander Matthew Horton on November 8, 2019.

The USS Delaware is the first Navy ship to be named for the First State since 1923. Exactly two months from today, on April 4, the USS Delaware will be commissioned in a public ceremony at the Port of Wilmington.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) will be joined by her guest, a stage 4 cancer survivor and small business owner, Jan White of Newark.