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Former wing commander to lead statewide as new TAG; looks to future

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erich B. Smith
  • 162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The former commander of the 162nd Fighter Wing was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in a ceremony here Sept. 7, and began his new assignment as the adjutant general (TAG) for the Arizona National Guard Sept. 9 in Phoenix.

More than 800 guardsmen, retirees, family and friends were present to witness the promotion of Brig. Gen. Mick McGuire, whose career highlights include serving as a mission-ready F-16 pilot during the Gulf War to leading the 214th Reconnaissance Group, and culminating with his new gubernatorial appointment as a state military chief of staff and director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.

"In this new capacity I will do the best I can to lead with a high level of integrity and provide what one would expect from a professional airman, which is great leadership," said McGuire.

To seal his new rank as a brigadier general, McGuire's wife, mother and three daughters placed silvers stars on his dress blues. In a custom that signifies the presence of a general officer, Army Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, outgoing adjutant general for the ANG who served as the officiator for the event, presented a blue, one-star flag to McGuire.

In keeping with the time-honored traditions of aviation services, McGuire took his "fini" flight the day before the ceremony, complete with a hose down - or "aquatic jet baptism" - courtesy of the wing's fire department.

"It was truly a bittersweet moment," said McGuire. "I was overwhelmed with emotion knowing that this may be the last time I get to do this."

A fifth-generation military officer and a California native, McGuire was recruited to play football as an Air Force Falcon in 1983. Eventually, the camaraderie exemplified by cadets at the Air Force Academy convinced the budding athlete that wearing flight suits to work may be a satisfying career move.

"I said to myself, 'These are the type of people that I wish to continue to associate with,'" said McGuire. "And I like being a part of that profession-of-arms environment, working together as a team."

As he was speaking to his guard family, he took a moment to recognize his own family.

"I would not be here today without the support of my wife - first and foremost," said McGuire. "For 26 years she has stood by me and watched the good, the bad and the ugly, and always encouraged me and never wavered in her confidence that I would be standing here."

The new TAG later stated that the guiding principles he learned from his parents will set the standard for his statewide command.

"My mother and father are the architects of the two rules that we all have to live by - we have to tell one another the truth, and we have to give each other the best effort," McGuire said. "I've learned that if we do that, this will be the greatest team we've ever been a part

Though McGuire honored the history of the National Guard and its founding in the Massachusetts colony, the former command pilot fervently declared to the audience that the present and the future will truly showcase the greatness of Arizona's militia.

"Our legacy will be forged by how we move forward and how we respond to adversity," he said.

"His foundation of leadership comes from core values, which is something that he will emphasize in leading 8,000 airmen and soldiers," said Col. Andrew J. MacDonald, maintenance group commander.

In a show of gratitude toward the wing he has served at for 12 years, McGuire closed the ceremony by announcing that all 162nd Fighter Wing members would be receiving a coin - a strong tradition in military circles, usually reserved for top-performing individuals.

Both sides of the coin reflect the unique nature of the day's event, with one side highlighting his command at the nation's largest Air National Guard fighter wing, and the other solidifying his rank as a brigadier general.

Addressing the air guardsmen of the audience, McGuire's justification for the coin was simple.

"You put me in this position."

Though the announcement of the eventual mass coin-distribution came unexpectedly for Staff Sgt. Charmaine Pozo, the personnel support specialist believed it was a heartfelt farewell from a highly regarded, former wing commander.

"It was a testament of how he truly does care about all guard members."