by Senior Airman John Hillier
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
12/13/2012 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- With a hulking A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthog" at his side, Lt. Col. Anderson Neal Jr. assumed command of the 188th Maintenance Group at a ceremony in at the 188th Fighter Wing Dec. 2.
"We're excited that Lt. Col. Neal is here," said Col. Mark Anderson, 188th Fighter Wing commander. "Lt. Col. Neal recounted several times growing up when others went out of their way to tell him what he couldn't do. Instead of lowering his expectations, he used these doubters as motivation to achieve. His leadership and devotion, in concert with the finest group of maintainers in the world, will carry him through any obstacles in his path."
Colonel Neal began his military career as an F-4 Phantom crew chief with the 188th Maintenance Group in May 1985. He said it was the roar of the F-4 Phantom that got his attention and led to his decision to join the 188th.
"Chief [Master Sgt.] Hershel White escorted a potential recruit out on the flight line, just outside the hangar doors," Colonel Neal said. "Then they fired up one of those F-4 Phantom jets, and I said, 'Where do I sign up?'"
As he thanked the many friends and family members in attendance, Colonel Neal called this event one of the most special and humbling days of his 27-year military career.
"I am the same person as crew chief A1C Neal that began his career 27 years ago," said Colonel Neal. "But now I am responsible for the successes and failures of maintenance. With your help and support, Col. Anderson and our operators can continue to count on us. You are an outstanding group of motivated Airmen. I hope to see that one of you is the 188th Maintenance Group commander one day."
Colonel Neal previously served as director of maintenance, Arkansas National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, Camp Joseph T. Robinson, North Little Rock, Ark.
Colonel Neal enlisted in May 1985 with the 188th Fighter Wing as an Airman 1st class. He completed Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and subsequently began technical training in aircraft maintenance (crew chief), Sheppard AFB, Texas, where he also served as senior student leader (red rope). He received his noncommissioned officer certification in April 1988.
Colonel Neal attended the Academy of Military Science, McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Knoxville, Tenn., and was commissioned in 1989 as a transportation officer. In 1990, he completed the Reserve Officer Transportation Training Course at Sheppard AFB, Texas.
Colonel Neal completed Squadron Officer School by correspondence in 1994. In 1996 he was assigned officer-in-charge of the 188th Management and Systems Office in supply until January 2001, when he was assigned as chief of supply until April 2001.
Colonel Neal assumed command of the 188th Maintenance Squadron in April 2001 and served until 2005. He was activated with the 188th for one year in support of Operation Noble Eagle following the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
Colonel Neal served as Inspector General for the 188th Fighter Wing from December 2005 until being assigned as Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, 189th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, Ark., in March 2007.
"This is my guard family," Colonel Neal said. "They are why I and others have answered our state and nation's call one weekend a month and numerous other days of the past 27 years. It's because we are the Air National Guard."
Members of the 188th Fighter Wing Honor Guard post the colors at an assumption of command ceremony at the 188th Fighter Wing Dec. 2, 2012. Lt. Col. Anderson Neal assumed command of the 188th Maintenance Group during the ceremony. (National Guard photo by Amn. Cody Martin/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res
Note: Pictured is A-10C 80-0188 from the 184th Fighter Squadron.
Source (including 9 photos)