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Commander assumes post at 167th unit

September 10, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A new commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard unit in Berkeley County whose plans include possibly staging an air show at the facility was formally placed into his new position Sunday.

During a ceremony Sunday afternoon at the base south of Martinsburg, Col. Roger L. Nye was named commander of the 167th Airlift Wing, replacing Col. Eric Vollmecke.

Vollmecke has been commander for nearly four years and is expected to be named chief of staff of the West Virginia Air National Guard, a new job that will relocate him to Charleston, W.Va., base officials said.

The change in command was conducted in a massive building that is part of more than $250 million in upgrades to the base as it transitions from its use of the C-130H transport planes to the bigger C-5 Galaxy.

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One of the C-5s was parked at the entrance of the building Sunday, its nose propped open to make a stage for the ceremony.

The 167th Airlift Wing, based at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, 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, about 300 of whom are full-time.

Nye started his military career in 1978 by enlisting in the 167th Tactical Airlift Group, which was the base's name at the time.

After completing undergraduate pilot training, Nye returned to the 167th and has served a variety of posts, base officials said.

Nye and other Air National Guard officials praised base members for their work to prepare for the C-5 Galaxy while supporting combat missions in Iraq.

"You're warriors. You're awesome," Nye told about 1,000 base members, their friends and family members.

Nye said base members "changed with the world," and they have "gotten better."

Nye, 49, said he lives in New Market, Md., and will continue to commute to the base for his job. Although community use of the base has been more restricted since construction has started, Nye said he expects more community use of the facility will be allowed again.

And Nye said he would like to see an air show held at the base, although he did not go into detail during an interview after the ceremony.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Allen E. Tackett, adjutant general for the West Virginia Air National Guard.

Like Nye, Tackett praised members of the 167th for working on the transition of the base while continuing military operations.

"You've earned the right to have these facilities," said Tackett, who oversees all Army Guard and Air Guard operations in the state.

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