Story by Tech. Sgt. Andria Sapp, 183rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
SPRINGFIELD – 183rd Fighter Wing (FW) Commander Col. Michael A. Meyer of Springfield retired Nov. 7 after nearly 35 years of military service.
“Being in the Air National Guard has been a great opportunity. I have had great opportunities to serve my community, my state, and my country,” said Meyer during his retirement ceremony Nov. 3. “I have been able to work with some of the greatest, most patriotic, and selfless people in the world. We have laughed out loud together and we have cried together. Today is a day of laughter. That is an order.”
Meyer commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1977, joined the Air National Guard in 1978 and then earned his pilot wings in 1979. Other military positions Meyer has held include a short tour at National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., F-16 flight instructor, 183rd Operations Group Vice Commander and 183rd Fighter Wing Air Operations Officer.
During Meyer’s eight and a half years as the 183rd commander, the wing lost its flying mission in 2005 during the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. With Meyer’s leadership, the 183rd kept its doors open and gained two new missions.
“His efforts led our wing through one of the most trying times in the unit's history, the loss of our aircraft due to the Base Realignment and Closure Committee's actions,” said Col. Stephen F. Baggerly of Springfield, Illinois Air National Guard Director of Staff – Air. “His leadership was critical to our wing moving forward into our new missions. Col. Meyer always had the best interests of the service and the members of the 183d Fighter Wing in his heart and mind.”
While Meyer said he is humbled by those comments, he said he alone would not have been able to keep the unit open.
“I may have marshaled the forces and leveraged the great work ethic and attitudes of the Airmen that make up this unit, but the support of our community and fellow servicemembers are what made keeping our doors open a reality,” he said.
During the last 35 years, Meyer’s said there were many good times, to include November’s drill weekend.
“One of my most significant memories will always be this past weekend,” he said. “The fact that I could look back and leave knowing there is not unfinished work to do allow me to soak in all of the retirement celebrations. I made sure to take time to read every card and soak in every word people said.”
Meyer’s said each person along the way has helped shape him to be the leader he has become. He also said everything he accomplished would not have been impossible without his wife Emily’s support.
Lt. Col. Kevin Mulcahy of Springfield, director of operations, 183rd Air Component Operations Squadron, was one of the many Airmen Meyer mentored. Mulcahy first worked with Meyer in 1996 as a full-time technician.
“His mentorship and friendship has been invaluable over the years,” Mulcahy said. “He will be truly missed, and I wish Col. Meyer and Emily all the best.”
Meyer said he had some advice for the Airmen of the 183rd.
“Remember that opportunities are not defined by you, but by others. Always be prepared to take advantage of an opportunity when one comes along,” he said. “And remember, it is always best to try and fail then to never have tried at all.”