New Commander to Lead 188th Fighter Wing
The 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith will soon have a new commander. Current Vice Commander Colonel Mark Anderson will be the new leader of the Fighter Wing this weekend.
After six years commanding the 188th, Col. Thomas Anderson says he’s taking a traditional guardsman position at the Arkansas Air National Guard State Headquarters at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock. Col. Anderson says he has two sons and currently commutes to Fort Smith from Conway every day. Although he’ll be closer to his family, he says it’s a difficult time to leave the Fort Smith base.
“The uncertainty with what we have now, we don’t know if we’re going to have a flying mission, we don’t know if we’re going to be flying remote with piloted aircraft, we don’t know,” says Col. Anderson.
To keep guardsmen off the chopping block in Washington, the Council of Governors, made of up 10 state governors, proposed an alternative to budget cuts, but the Air Force recently rejected that proposal because it didn’t meet specific requirements.
“The number of challenges that we’ve had to overcome and the way we’ve overcome them during the time I’ve been here in headquarters, I think is what’s made me the most proud of the time I’ve served here,” says Col. Anderson.
“Since I got in this unit, one of the things that has impressed me the most is the support of this community,” says Col. Anderson.
Letters continue to reach state representatives about the importance of having the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith. Despite not knowing what will happen, Col. Anderson says the Airmen’s moral is still high.
“No matter how difficult the times may be, we’ve always been able to focus on the job at hand and complete it,” says Col. Anderson.
Two formal ceremonies for change of command will take place Saturday at the 188th Fighter Wing base in Fort Smith.