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Lt. Col. Michael Mihalik of O’Fallon, the Commander of the 126th Civil Engineer Squadron, 126th Air Refueling Wing, has been selected as the next Illinois Air National Guard Director of Staff and will be promoted to colonel.
Mihalik will replace Col. William Miller on January 10. Miller, the Director of Staff since January 2020, was selected as Mission Support Group (MSG) Commander for the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing at Jefferson Barracks.
“Colonel Miller guided the Illinois Air National Guard staff through two historic years with the initial COVID-19 response, the immunization mission, multiple civil disturbance responses; all while we were still providing Airmen and aircraft in support of our federal mission,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. “We are grateful for the support of Colonel Miller and his family over these last two years and are confident Lieutenant Colonel Mihalik will excel in his new responsibilities.”
Maj. Gen. Pete Nezamis, the Assistant Adjutant General – Air and Commander of the Illinois Air National Guard, also thanked Colonel Miller for his service.
“His calm demeanor and leadership during these last two years were invaluable as the Illinois Air National Guard performed a whole host of missions, both COVID-19 related and not. He worked seamlessly with the Illinois National Guard's Joint Staff and the Illinois Army National Guard's staff as we all adapted to and excelled in multiple missions nobody could've foreseen,” Nezamis said.
Nezamis said that Mihalik was selected from multiple well qualified candidates. It was his experience ranging from national-level positions at National Guard Bureau to multiple overseas deployments to squadron command that helped him stand out. “He’s been effective and built great teams wherever he’s served.”
In addition, Mihalik has a master’s degree in environmental policy and management from American Military University. “This understanding of operating in ways that protect the environment and being good stewards of environmental resources is absolutely vital in the Air Force,” Nezamis said.
Mihalik said he was grateful to the Airmen and civilians he’s worked with for preparing him for this new assignment.
“Everything we accomplish in the Air Force, we accomplish as a team,” Mihalik said. “I get the promotion and title, but really there are a whole lot of people who earned it. That includes my family. Courtney and our three boys, Landon, Zachary and Tyler, made a lot of personal sacrifices so that I could serve. Many hours and days of family time are given to the Air Force and the nation’s defense.”
The Illinois Air National Guard Director of Staff oversees the daily operations of the headquarters staff and directs activities of his staff members in the areas of strategic planning, policy implementation, personnel services, logistics, recruiting and retention, facilities, security and force protection, along with homeland security and homeland defense.
Prior to taking command of the 126th Civil Engineer Squadron in May 2017, Mihalik served in various staff positions for five years under the Director of the Air National Guard at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, within the Logistics, Engineering, and Force Protection Division. He’s had three overseas tours, serving twice in Afghanistan and once in Qatar. He’s also served with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron in New Mexico, the Headquarters Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency in Florida, and the 7th Civil Engineer Squadron/7th Mission Support Group in Texas.
In addition to his master’s degree, he has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Mississippi State University. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Force War College and U.S. Air Force Command and Staff Officer School.