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New commander named for 167th Airlift Wing

December 09, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 16-year veteran of the 167th Airlift Wing in Berkeley County, W.Va., has been tapped to replace Col. Jesse Thomas as the commander of the local West Virginia Air National Guard unit, officials with the base announced Monday.

Col. Eric Vollmecke was selected to replace Thomas, who is retiring for health reasons, said Brig. Gen. V. Wayne Lloyd, commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

Vollmecke, who will take over the job on Jan. 11 during a base ceremony, brings a wealth of experience to the post, including a stint at the Pentagon, extensive worldwide airlift experience with the 167th and holding various leadership positions in the unit, according to a news release distributed at a press briefing at the base Monday afternoon.

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Unlike most top jobs at Air National Guard bases, Vollmecke will be a part-time commander. While he will oversee all operations at the base, another person will be named to an air commander position to oversee the full-time technicians who work there, Lloyd said.

The base was under the control of a part-time commander once before when Col. Bill Denton oversaw the base during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lloyd said.

"We decided that Eric is such a unique individual that we will split the job," Lloyd said.

Vollmecke described himself as a "part-timer with full-time commitment. Obviously, this will be a priority in my life."

Vollmecke, who lives in Great Falls, Va., with his wife and five children, said he probably will work at the local Air Guard base about two days a week. He said his priorities and challenges at the base will be preparing the facility for use of the new C-5 cargo aircraft and dealing with deployment of unit members abroad.

Vollmecke works full time for SCRA, a research and development corporation.

He started his military career by attending The Citadel on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. He earned a bachelor's degree in math from The Citadel. He attended U.S. Air Force technical training at Keesler Air Force base in Gulfport, Miss., became a communications officer and was assigned to the 7th Communications Group at the Pentagon.

The 167th Airlift Wing, based at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport south of Martinsburg, provides support to military operations abroad and has sent hundreds to Iraq in support of the military operations there. The base has about 1,180 members, 300 of whom are full-timers.

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