By Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, Joint Force Kentucky Headquarters
/ Published October 05, 2008
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Col. Mark Kraus has been tapped as the next chief of staff of the Kentucky Air National Guard, and longtime Guardsman Col. Greg Nelson has been named to replace him as commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, effective tomorrow.
Colonel Kraus, who has served as wing commander since June 2004, brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the headquarters job, said the state's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, who announced the appointments along with a number of other personnel changes earlier this summer.
In 2003 and 2007, for example, Colonel Kraus deployed to the Central Command Area of Responsibility to lead expeditionary units that were engaged in around-the-clock wartime operations.
"Colonel Kraus is a true military professional and continues to represent the Kentucky Guard in a superb fashion," General Tonini said. "He'll do great things at the state level as well."
As chief of staff, Colonel Kraus will be responsible to the assistant adjutant general for Air and to the adjutant general for coordination of policy, guidance and the direction of more than 1,300 Kentucky Air Guard members and Kentucky's joint forces.
Colonel Nelson, the new wing commander, also has proven his mettle in numerous operational and administrative jobs, General Tonini said.
Colonel Nelson's military career spans more than 33 years, including nine years of enlisted service prior to his commissioning as an officer through the Air National Guard Academy of Military Science in 1984. Since then, he has served as an RF-4C weapon systems officer and C-130 instructor navigator, as well as deputy chief of the command post, chief of logistics plans, chief of wing plans and commander of the 123rd Airlift Control Flight.
Most recently, Colonel Nelson was the strategic plans and policy officer at Kentucky National Guard Joint Force Headquarters.
During his KyANG career, Colonel Nelson has participated in Operations Desert Storm, Desert Watch, Southern Watch, Provide Promise, Joint Forge, Joint Guard, Coronet Oak, Phoenix Oak, Bright Star, Partnership For Peace and Red Flag. He also was mobilized in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
"Our Kentucky Air Guard is combat-tested and ever-ready to handle emergencies, both stateside and abroad," General Tonini said. "The wing's leadership has always kept the Airmen battle-ready. The 123rd a world-class unit."
In other moves:
· General Tonini selected Col. George Scherzer, the wing's current vice commander, to serve as executive support staff officer at state headquarters; and Lt. Col. Mitch Perry, the wing's current chief of staff, to serve as state judge advocate general. Both changes are effective tomorrow.
· Col. William Ketterer, current commander of the 123rd Mission Support Group, will replace Colonel Scherzer as wing vice commander (see story on Page 3), while Lt. Col. Matthew Stone has been named acting commander of the support group, effective tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Michael Dornbush will assume the duties of assistant adjutant general for Air, taking over for Brig. Gen. Howard P. Hunt III, who retired from the Kentucky National Guard on Tuesday.
As assistant adjutant general for Air, General Dornbush represents Gov. Steve Beshear and the adjutant general as the principal advisor on matters pertaining to the Kentucky Air National Guard. He also serves as the commander of Headquarters, Kentucky Air National Guard. In this capacity, he has command-and-control responsibility of all Air National Guard units in Kentucky.
"I'm extremely proud of the commitment that these Kentucky Air Guard leaders have made to our Commonwealth," General Tonini said. "Very proud."