Colonel Donald K. Carpenter of Tremont, Illinois, a veteran with multiple overseas tours, a certified expert in process improvement and someone with national level military experience, has been named the next Commander of the 183rd Wing based at Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport where he will oversee about 900 Airmen with multiple varied missions and an approximately $26 million operating budget.
"Colonel Carpenter is the right leader to bring the 183rd Wing into its next chapter," said Brig. Gen. Rich Neely, The Adjutant General and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. "He brings a combination of global combat experience and extensive military experience that will help grow the wing and the Illinois National Guard."
Carpenter, who is now the wing's Vice Commander, will replace Col. John Patterson, who has commanded the 183rd Wing since 2014.
"Colonel Patterson has done an outstanding job leading the wing. As a pilot, he flew both the F4 and F16 fighter aircraft. After the aircraft left the wing, he helped to build its Air Operations Group and solidified its maintenance missions in addition to many other accomplishments. We thank him for his many years of service to the Air Force and Illinois Air National Guard," said Brig. Gen. Peter Nezamis, the Assistant Adjutant General - Air and Commander of the Illinois Air National Guard.
Prior to Patterson’s assignment as Wing commander he was the 183rd’s Mission Support Group Commander. Patterson will retire in December.
Nezamis said there were many excellent senior officers considered for the wing's command, but Carpenter's track record of improving every organization he was assigned to was the deciding factor.
"Everywhere he has been assigned - every job he was given - he left it better than before," said Nezamis.
Carpenter was assigned to the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria for many years as a maintenance officer. During his tenure, and since, the 182nd won multiple maintenance and readiness awards. In addition, he was the senior military officer in charge of C-130 maintenance training for the Polish Air Force. Carpenter is certified as a Continuous Process Improvement Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and contributes countless hours to innovation, process improvement and leadership development in both the Air and Army National Guard. Citing his unique skills and experience, Air Force Headquarters-A4, Pentagon, has sought out Carpenter on numerous occasions to support Air Force projects.
Carpenter said he is both honored and humbled to assume command of the 183rd Wing.
"The wing has a long and distinguished history and it is still as relevant today as it was in 1948 and was flying P-51 Mustangs. The wing is vital to the protection of our nation and our state. There are challenges ahead, but with this great team of Airmen and civilians, I have no doubt we will meet every challenge and shape a very bright future for the 183rd," said Carpenter.
Carpenter's military experience includes two tours in Afghanistan, in 2008 and 2011 to 2012, as the maintenance squadron commander with the 182nd Airlift Wing based in Peoria. He has had military tours to Germany, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to his work with the Polish Air Force as part of the Illinois National Guard's premier State Partnership Program with Poland.
Carpenter received his commission in 1997 from the Academy of Military Science, McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee as a distinguished graduate. He has held leadership positions at the squadron and group levels of command. Prior to being named as the 183rd's Vice Commander in September 2018, he was the 183rd Wing's Mission Support Group Commander for three years. He served in multiple command and staff positions with the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria from 1997 to 2015.
Carpenter holds a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Management and Technology of Arlington, Va. He is a graduate of the Air War College and Air Command and Staff College.
His awards and decorations include Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster, the National Defense Service Medal with bronze star, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with bronze star, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with bronze star, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.