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Col. Robert Kilgore takes command of 107th Airlift Wing

  • Published
  • By Capt. Elaine Nowak
  • 107th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Colonel Robert G. Kilgore assumed command of the New York Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing at a change of command ceremony here on Saturday.

The traditional ceremony was held to mark the transition from Col. John J. Higgins, who took command of the wing in January 2013, to Col. Robert G. Kilgore. Col. Higgins is retiring this month after 32 years of service in the Air Force.

Col. Kilgore has served in the 107th Airlift Wing since 1997. He is a command pilot with more than 4,600 flying hours. He has been the unit's vice commander since 2013.

Ceremony attendees included Major General Verle Johnston, the commander of the New York Air National Guard, commanders from other NYANG units, several local officials, the men and women of the 107th Airlift Wing as well as the friends and family of Col. Kilgore.

"Col. Kilgore has succeeded in every position he has been put in. He understands the needs of the unit and the goals and aspirations of all the wing's Airmen. He has used his time well as vice commander in helping lead the wing in a stressful time of conversion," Major General Johnston said at the ceremony.

Col. Kilgore graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988. He earned a Master's Degree in Managerial Economics from the University of Oklahoma in 1999. Following his undergraduate pilot training in 1989, he completed follow-on training in the KC-135R, refueling tanker aircraft.  He piloted the KC-135R for more than nine years on active duty. Col. Kilgore joined the New York Air National Guard in 1997.

Since joining the 107th AW, Col. Kilgore has served as an instructor pilot and evaluator pilot. He has been a flight commander, operations officer, squadron commander of the 136th Air Refueling Squadron and the 107 AW Maintenance Group commander and the director of plans and programs for the New York Air National Guard.  In January of 2013, he became the vice wing commander of the 107th AW and recently became qualified as an MQ-9 pilot.

A combat veteran, Col. Kilgore served in Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Desert Strike, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, and Enduring Freedom. He has deployed as an operations officer, detachment commander, and as deputy operations group commander, Joint Base, Balad, Iraq. He received a number of awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Southwest Asia Service Medal (for Operation Desert Storm), the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Service Medal.

As commander of the 107th AW, Col. Kilgore will be responsible for the deployment and employment of over 630 assigned personnel and equipment ensuring asset availability in support of state and national requirements. He will oversee the unit during the conversion to the MQ-9 Reaper, a remotely piloted aircraft. The unit plans to be fully operational in that mission by 2017.

"It's a tremendous honor. I've been in this unit for 17 years. These are the finest Americans you could ever come across. It is a privilege to stand in front of them and take command," Col. Kilgore said.

Col. Kilgore was born in Philadelphia, P.A. and grew up in Clifton Park, N.Y. He currently resides in Lancaster, N.Y. with his wife Michele and their two children.