Sen. Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Air Force Caucus, announced Air Force Col. Dawn Lancaster as his guest for this year’s State of the Union Address, which is scheduled to take place Feb. 4 in the Capitol.
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,” said Coons. “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, 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 Sen. Coons’ guest,” said Lancaster. “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, 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% during the Office of the Secretary of Defense Mortuary Inspection in 2019.
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.
The State of the Union fulfills the requirement in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution for the president to periodically “give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”