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149th Fighter Wing command changes

Colonel Kenneth Nereson, right, accepts the guidon from Brigadier General John Nichols as he assumes command of the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, Lackland AFB, Texas on April 17, 2009. (Air National Guard photo by SSgt Eric Wilson) (RELEASED)

Colonel Kenneth Nereson, right, accepts the guidon from Brigadier General John Nichols as he assumes command of the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, Lackland AFB, Texas on April 17, 2009. (Air National Guard photo by SSgt Eric Wilson) (RELEASED)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --      Col. Kenneth Nereson assumed command of the 149th Fighter Wing April 17 in a ceremony at the Texas Air National Guard (ANG) area here.
     During the ceremony Colonel Nereson received the wing's guidon, symbolizing his acceptance of leadership of the 800-member ANG unit. In his remarks, he touched upon his vision for the wing, which provides combat training in the F-16 aircraft to student pilots for the Air Force and Air Force Reserve as well as the ANG.
     Colonel Nereson succeeds Brig. Gen. John Nichols, who recently moved up to become the state's Assistant Adjutant General-Air and commander of the Texas ANG, headquartered on Camp Mabry, in Austin.
     General Nichols began his military career in 1979, receiving his commission through the U.S. Air Force Academy. After transitioning to the F-16, he went on to complete F-16 Fighter Weapons School in 1988. He joined the Wisconsin ANG in 1992 and then the Texas ANG in 2000, serving as vice commander of the 149th Fighter Wing before becoming commander in 2002. Among his recent distinctions, he commanded the Texas Military Forces joint task force responding to hurricanes in 2007 and 2008.
     Colonel Nereson entered the Air Force in 1981 via the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at New Mexico State University. His early service included assignments to Bergstrom AFB, Texas; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Homestead AFB, Fla.; and Kunsan AB, South Korea. In 1992 he was selected to join the 12th Air Force Inspector General Team Air Combat Command, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. While at this assignment he qualified to fly every model of the F-16. After joining the Arizona ANG in 1995, he flew for the 162nd Flying Training Wing based at Tucson International Airport, and trained foreign F-16 student pilots.
     In 1996 Colonel Nereson moved to Texas and became safety chief for the 149th Fighter Wing. During Operation Southern Watch, which preceded Operation Iraqi Freedom, he flew combat missions over Iraq. He became the wing's operational support commander in 1999, when the unit began its current training mission. He is credited with integrating both night vision goggle and targeting pod training in the F-16 basic course syllabus -- a first for the ANG and the Air Force.
     Colonel Nereson has served as vice commander of the 149th Fighter Wing for the last three years. The new commander quickly outlined his goals. 
     His mid-range goals are for the wing to obtain an "outstanding" on its Unit Compliance Inspection in 2010 and to break ground on a new F-16 mission training center.
     "The mission training center will house four of the most technologically advance F-16 simulators, to be used to train F-16 student pilots from all over the United States," said Colonel Nereson, who added that it would not interfere with the current training mission.
     Colonel Nereson said his long-range goals are for the wing to obtain the new Joint Strike Fighter (the F-35 aircraft) and to become an active associate unit, whereby an ANG unit links up with active-duty Air Force personnel for a long-range training relationship.
     "We want to pursue bringing the Joint Strike Fighter into our training role when it becomes available," he explained. "And we want to be an associate unit so we can train side by side with our active duty counterparts -- under the Total Force construct."
     Colonel Nereson noted that these goals will be executed via the 149th Fighter Wing strategic plan.