Maj. Chase Darden, commander of the 8th Comptroller Squadron at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, was relieved of command Oct. 15 after being in the job for just four months, an Air Force spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
Darden was fired “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability” to run the unit, said Mi Chang, a spokesperson for the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan. It’s a catch-all phrase used to describe why a leader was ousted, without offering specifics.
First Lt. Manervia McDonald, who was second-in-command of the squadron as its financial analysis flight commander, has taken over as interim commander. McDonald is the most qualified to lead the squadron, Chang said.
Darden replaced Maj. Samuel Han as head of the comptroller squadron June 4. Han moved to the 4th Comptroller Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, in July after more than a year overseeing the South Korea-based unit.
The 8th Comptroller Squadron, known as the “Money Wolves,” is comprised of about three dozen airmen who serve about 2,800 airmen stationed at Kunsan. The base flies F-16 Fighting Falcons fighter jets out of the Korean Peninsula to deter North Korean aggression and other airpower missions in the Indo-Pacific.
“Kunsan’s financial services professionals support one of the highest turnover tempos in the Air Force by in-processing an average of 80 personnel and serving an average of 150 walk-in customers every week,” the Air Force comptroller’s office said in 2015. “In addition to filling the wing’s pay needs, their financial analysis provides exceptional decision support to Kunsan senior leadership and manages an annual budget in excess of $33 million.”
According to a public-facing LinkedIn page, Darden worked as a congressional liaison for nearly three years before joining the comptroller unit, and served in two financial management roles at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, from August 2015 to August 2018.
He also worked as a financial management flight commander and deputy budget officer for special operations airmen at Hurlburt Field, Florida, from August 2012 to July 2015, and as a deputy flight commander at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School from June 2011 to July 2012, according to LinkedIn.
The Air Force did not immediately answer whether it is investigating Darden for any wrongdoing.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.