Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

TOP STORY >>Taking over ANG command

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Col. James R. Summers of Sherwood assumed command of the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing from Col. Travis D. Balch of Vilonia during a change of command Saturday at Little Rock Air Force Base, home to the ANG’s 189th.
Balch will be filling the Arkansas Air National Guard’s chief of staff position at the state’s Joint Force Headquarters.

Summers, a command pilot with more than 9,100 hours in various military aircraft, had been serving as the wing’s vice-commander since last August.

Thanking Maj. Gen. William Wofford, adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Riley Porter, assistant adjutant general of Arkansas ANG at LRAFB, for their vote of confidence that will allow him to serve as the wing commander, Summers also credited Balch for leaving behind a strong unit.

“I know that due to Col. Balch’s strong leadership, the wing has a solid foundation on which to continue its tradition of success and to build a winning team for the 2008 ORI (Operational Readiness Inspection),” Summers said. He also addressed the 850 airmen, those in attendance and the 88 currently deployed, that make up the 189th AW.

“The fact that you have chosen to wear the uniform and do the job you do indicates that you are a true patriot,” Summers said. “But the ultimate measure of our success as a unit will be judged by our ability to safely and effectively execute our mission in support of national and state objectives. I look forward to working with you as we meet future challenges.

“I consider it a great honor and privilege to be allowed to continue to serve with the most highly skilled, highly trained and highly motivated group of individuals in the Air National Guard,” Summers added.

He joined the Arkansas ANG’s 154th Training Squadron in 1991 as an instructor pilot.

In 1999, he became the 189th Maintenance Squadron commander, and in 2002 he was named the 189th Operations Group commander.

While serving as vice commander, he was second in command of the wing and assisted Balch in the tactical employment, administration and training of all units within the 189th AW.