By Col. Michael Thomas
127th Wing Commander
(Published in the December 2011 public online PDF issue's Commander's Call section of "Prevailing Wind" - the official newspaper of the 127th Wing)
Wow 2011, what a dynamic year! We all experienced significant change in 2011. We also experienced tremendous success. Bringing pride to our Selfridge community and the State of Michigan.
First the change: The year stated with Col. Augustine announcing his move to the 122nd Fighter Wing in Indiana. In March, Brig. Gen. Peplinski announced his pending retirement scheduled for June. Command Chief Edwards also retired in March. These announcements initiated massive change that we experienced at all levels of this wing.
Here are just a few of the leadership changes throughout the 127th Wing: Col. Thomas to Wing Commander, Lt. Col. Sheridan to Vice Wing Commander, Chief Master Sgt. Dobson to Wing Command Chief. Lt. Col. Brooks to Air Refueling Group Commander, Lt. Col. Krasovic to 171st ARS Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Spehar to 127th MXS Commander, Lt. Col. Holmes to Force Support Squadron Commander, Major Dominissini to 191st Director of Maintenance, Major Hitchcock to 191st AMX Commander. This was some serious change and folks are still feeling the affects of all this change.
With all this change also came tremendous success. The Operations and Maintenance Groups came out of conversion from the F-16 to the A-10. Following a very successful Red Flag exercise in March, the unit reported their Initial Operational Capability in June. No rest for the weary! The Air Force needed our A-10 aviation package in CENTCOM six months earlier then initially scheduled. With only two months to prepare, the OG and MXG spun up for war and the wing successfully deployed ap-proximately 300 personnel trained and equipped ready to answer the call in late September. This was by far the most successful, mini-mum time, deployment I've seen to date. Thanks to all the OG, MXG and MSG folks that worked so hard to make this deployment such a success. As I write this article, let's all keep these wing members in our thoughts and prayers until their safe return early next year.
All of our wing personnel have contributed significantly to the war fight in numerous ways. Let's all thank our Civil Engineering folks for their successful, six-month deployment to Afghanistan; our Services personnel for their deployment to Kuwait; Special Operations Weather Team to unknown locations around the globe and all the Air Refueling Group folks that deployed to both CENTCOM and PACOM. The Air Refueling Group is also currently involved in a rolling mobilization to CENTCOM where we'll be deploying aircraft and airmen for 60-day rotations far into the future.
Other deployments included Logistics Readiness Squadron to Alaska, Air Refueling Group to Germany, Africa and the Pacific Rim. We stand ready to answer the nation's call. This was evident during the Libya contingency when the Air Refueling Group deployed an airplane and personnel in less than 48 hours -- with some of our maintenance folks only receiving a four-hour heads up call. Pack a bag, kiss the kids and spouse goodbye, leave a message for the civilian boss and report to the base for deployment.
You all answered the call so others could prevail. What you do each and every day is important to our state and nation. Your skills and expertise are saving lives all around the world. Keep up the great work!
Now we're looking forward to 2012. What will be in our future? Whatever comes our way, I know that you're all prepared to meet the challenge ahead. Don't be afraid of change. As I've said in the past, change leads to opportunity and opportunity leads to success. We have what it takes to be the best Wing in the U.S. Air Force and your actions and commitment prove that each and every day.
Thank you for your service. Thank you and your family for all your sacrifice. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to getting it done again in 2012.
Official USAF biography of Colonel Michael T. Thomas