186 ARW commander retires on top

  • Published
  • By Capt Steven Stubbs
  • 186th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office
Colonel Franklin Chalk, wing commander, 186th Air Refueling Wing, retired from the Mississippi Air National Guard with family, fellow guard members, dignitaries and friends watching as he folded his wings for the final time at Key Field Air National Guard Base November 22, 2013.

During his 35 year career, Chalk experienced the thrill of hurtling his body towards the earth at over 1,200 miles per hour in an RF-4C Phantom II reconnaissance aircraft but also the pain of losing the KC-135R Stratotanker due to BRAC realignment. But Chalk remained calm and fought tirelessly to keep the flying mission at Key Field.

"He has led this wing through some difficult times," said Major General Augustus L. Collins, Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard. "During that time he has exemplified exceptional leadership. He was the glue that held everything and everyone together."

After the BRAC order, the wing jump started the brand new MC-12 Project Liberty training mission. The training program began in earnest in October 2008 when the National Guard Bureau contacted base leadership about the possibility of utilizing Meridian-based crew members who posses extensive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) experience in a similar aircraft, the RC-26, to train active duty aviators.

The two-and-a-half year training program developed into a "bridge" mission maintaining critical manpower support as the 186th Air Refueling Wing awaited arrival of the C-27J transport aircraft. However the C-27J program, dubbed as supporting the soldiers and airmen the last tactical mile, was short-lived due to sequestration-led budget cuts. But through Chalk working alongside national and state representatives, leaders of the Mississippi National Guard, and local lobbying groups, the KC-135R tankers found their way back to Key Field this year.

"There is nothing better than looking out on the ramp and seeing those KC-135 tankers sitting out there," Chalk said. "There has been a lot of talk today about what I did but the truth of the matter is there were so many people who had a strong influence on our getting this refueling mission back to Key Field."

Chalk received his commission through the Academy of Military Science, Knoxville, Tennessee on Nov. 16, 1978. After commissioning, he attended Undergraduate Navigator Training, Mather Air Force Base, California, which he completed on Nov. 17, 1979. On Dec. 27, 1979, he graduated from Tactical Navigation Training at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

Prior to assuming his current position, Chalk served as Vice Commander of the 186 ARW. Other military assignments include Squadron Navigator, Chief of Standardizations and Evaluations, Training Officer, Air Operations Officer, Squadron Commander, and Operations Group Commander.

Although Chalk received numerous awards and accolades during his ceremony, he sent this touching note to those who served under him for seven years.

"It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve with each and every one of you. You are the "standard by which others are measured". I would not have had it any other way."