After more than 37 years of service spanning the Michigan Air National Guard and the Illinois Air National Guard, Maj. Gen. Peter Nezamis, of Belleville, Illinois, Assistant Adjutant General – Air and Commander of the Illinois Air National Guard, will retire from the Illinois Air National Guard.
Nezamis, a former commander of the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Base in Belleville, Illinois, relinquished command of the Illinois Air National Guard to Brig. Gen. Dan McDonough, of Peoria, Illinois, in a ceremony at the 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, Illinois, June 4. A retirement ceremony was held June 17 at the 126th Air Refueling Wing, based at Scott Air Base, Belleville, Illinois.
“After nearly 37 years of service to Illinois, and our nation, the time has come to bid you all a heartfelt farewell as I step down as your commander and retire this summer,” Nezamis told family, friends and fellow Airmen at the June 4 ceremony. “This has been the greatest adventure I never planned – to serve and be blessed with all the opportunities presented to me. I had one simple goal, fly airplanes in the Air National Guard. I would worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.”
Nezamis, a 1986 graduate of Western Michigan University, commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Michigan Air National Guard in December 1986. He completed undergraduate pilot training and was assigned to the 108th Air Refueling Squadron, which was then based at O’Hare International Airport Air Reserve Station in Chicago, as a KC-135E pilot. He would later transfer to the Illinois Air National Guard.
“Pete Nezamis led the Illinois Air National Guard through one of the most challenging periods in our nation and National Guard history including the unprecedented COVID-19 response and law enforcement support missions throughout the state and Washington, D.C.,” Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard said. “General Nezamis served nationally performing duty for the United States Strategic Command and as Chairman for the Strategic Planning System Committee Midwest Region, providing strategic executive level input to the Director of the Air National Guard, all the while, the Illinois Air National Guard maintained among the highest readiness rates in the nation, supporting multiple overseas contingency operations, and leading the charge on modernization and innovation throughout the Air National Guard. General Nezamis rose quickly through the ranks to Wing Command at an early age and was pivotal in the relocation of the 126th Air Refueling Wing in 1999. Pete has truly etched his name in the annals of Illinois National Guard history.”
Nezamis is a command pilot, instructor and evaluator with more than 5,200 flight hours. He has commanded numerous expeditionary operations including the 492nd and the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadrons and flown more than 275 combat hours in support of several operations, including Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
“Never in my imagination would the journey look as it did, especially serving in harm’s way,” Nezamis said. “I spent most of my career at the 126th Air Refueling Wing, first in Chicago and then moving in 1999 to Scott Air Base.”
Nezamis’ previous commands include the 126th Air Refueling Wing Commander, Operations Group Commander, and Squadron Commander. Prior to assuming command of the Illinois Air National Guard in 2019, Nezamis was the Chief of the Joint Staff, Illinois National Guard, at Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois.
“In 2018, I was called to our headquarters on Camp Lincoln, first as the Chief of the Joint Staff and then, in January 2019, as Commander of the Illinois Air National Guard,” he said. “The many priceless places, faces and friendships are etched in my memory. I have served for, and with, the best Airmen, officers, noncommissioned officers, aviators and leaders one could ever hope for. It has been an honor to serve in the Illinois Air National Guard in the Cold War, Gulf War, Balkans, the Global War on Terror, during the war in Ukraine and through other conflicts and challenges. Every day you, the best professionals in uniform, inspired me.”
Nezamis thanked his spouse, Teeshia, formerly of St. Joseph, Michigan, and their three sons, Nicholas, Eric Peter, and Alexander, for their unwavering support throughout his career.
“Thank you to Teeshia and our sons, who served and sacrificed alongside me for all of my career,” he said. “There is no way I would be here today without your love and support.”
Nezamis will retire from the Illinois Air National Guard later this summer after completing his mission with United States Strategic Command.