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Meet the next wing commander

Col. Michael McGuire

Col. Michael McGuire

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Air National Guard's premier F-16 fighter training unit will welcome a new commander during an assumption of command ceremony scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Jan. 8, at Tucson International Airport.

Col. Michael McGuire will serve as the 162nd Fighter Wing's 11th commanding officer since its inauguration in 1956. He will be responsible for more than 1,450 Arizona Air National Guardsmen, 66 F-16 Fighting Falcons and the wing's full-time international pilot training mission.

"I am truly humbled by the opportunity and hope to earn the respect and trust of the members of 162nd," said Colonel McGuire who currently leads the Arizona Air National Guard's 214th Reconnaissance Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

"Leadership is a gift given by those who follow. I hope to earn it and show that I'm capable," he said.

But McGuire is no stranger to the 162nd.

Prior to assuming command of the reconnaissance mission at Davis-Monthan in February 2010, he served nine years with the wing; a period that culminated in his command of the 148th Fighter Squadron, the wing's former United Arab Emirates training unit. There he taught UAE pilots to fly the F-16E Desert Falcon, or Block 60 - the most advanced F-16 aircraft ever built.

The year away from the 162nd, he says, gave him valuable experience that he hopes will serve the wing upon his return.

According to the colonel, the MQ-1B Predator mission offered him a new, broader view, of how the active duty and Reserve components of all service branches and partner nations work together in overseas contingencies.

"Predator was an excellent opportunity," said the colonel about flying remotely piloted aircraft over Iraq and Afghanistan via satellite from Tucson. "It's a great mission with great people. It's incredible technology that is a force multiplier in our irregular warfare campaigns in the [Central Command area of responsibility]."

He's also a veteran of conventional warfare.

During Operation Desert Shield in 1990 he was in the third F-16 squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia and saw combat when Desert Storm ensued. Between the first Gulf War, and his combat experience at the 214th he accumulated more than 250 combat and combat-support flying hours.

As a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy he entered active duty in 1987. Over the course of 14 years he flew F-16s in operational and training squadrons at Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.; and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

In June 2001, the 162nd hired McGuire to be an instructor pilot where he could continue using his training and experience while enjoying family ties in Tucson and the unit's proximity to his hometown, Arcadia, Calif.

On Sept. 11, 2001, only months after joining the wing, he learned the real capability of his fellow Guardsmen.

"It was my most memorable, emotional, and rewarding experience with this wing," recalled Colonel McGuire. "I was scheduled to fly a local training mission that morning. When I got to work my flight was cancelled, I went on crew rest and returned to fly air defense at 11 p.m. The 'can do' attitude of the wing to stand up that mission in such a short period was simply amazing."

Before the terrorist attacks of that fateful day, Tucson's Air Guard unit functioned solely as a fighter training facility. Within a few hours, Airmen here launched operations to defend 225,000 square miles of the Southwest - the wing's air sovereignty alert mission that continues today, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

But the colonel isn't spending much time looking back. Instead he looks forward with ambitious goals for the wing and its people.

"My goal for the wing is to continue to be the premier F-16 training wing in the country... to continue to be the standard that others look at for how we build professional military alliances with officers and maintainers from around the world," said Colonel McGuire.

His vision is to move into next generation F-16 technologies, or the technologies available in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, he said. "I see this unit having a long-term role - because of its unique and excellent location in Southern Arizona - in manned fighter training for all our close international allies."

His aspirations for Airmen assigned to the wing reflect his own leadership style, which he says is by example.

"Leading by example means we do exactly what we say we're going to do. We behave professionally with honor and integrity and we give our best effort," said Colonel McGuire. "Tell the truth and give your best effort, that's all I can ask of anyone in the wing. And I'll do the same for them."

"I want to provide Airmen with opportunities for career enhancement, to have them work in a place where they truly understand the Air Force core values, and to have them understand that this is a team sport," he said.

"We will meet many challenges in the years ahead and we will effectively conquer them with the same 'can do' attitude we all displayed on September 11th."

Colonel McGuire and his wife Debbie have been married 22 years. Together they have three daughters Allie, 20, Hannah, 16, and Maggie, 10.

"My wife Debbie is our biggest supporter," said Colonel McGuire. "She loves the military - all our Airmen and Soldiers. She hopes to be able to assist people in the wing. She's the nicest person you'll ever meet. We both look forward to serving."