March 7, 2004 (by Eric L. Palmer) - Col. Mark Meyer became commander of the Montana Air National Guard 120th Fighter Wing at a Saturday morning ceremony on Gore Hill. Meyer, 51, relieved Col. Patrick Pauli, who took the position in October 2001 and is retiring after more than 30 years of service.
Meyer is now in charge of 310 full-time and about 600 part-time MANG employees.
In peacetime, the commander of the 120th Fighter Wing trains and coordinates the fighter wing squadrons so they function smoothly in times of war. The task took on increased significance in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. The job could become even more significant as global military demands spawn changes in the Guard.
A native of Rapid City, S.D., Meyer attended the University of Montana on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. He graduated in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in Forest Resource Management. He joined the Air Force in 1976 and soon transferred to the Air National Guard. He is one of the few remaining MANG pilots who flew the F-16's predecessor, the F-106.
About 200 members of the Montana Air National Guard will be deployed for one month this summer to southwest Asia. The exact place of the deployment is still unkinown but it will involve replacement of forces already there in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Most of MANG's pilots, about 20 to 25, mechanics, support crews and some of the unit's 17 F-16s will go.