Michigan Air National Guard 127th Wing Commander to Retire
June 2, 2011
LANSING, MICH. - The Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Director and state Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais has announced the retirement of Brig. Gen. Michael Peplinski, commander of the 127th Wing, a component of the Michigan Air National Guard based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Vadnais has named Col. Michael Thomas, the current vice wing commander, to serve as the next wing commander. Peplinksi plans to retire this summer.
"General Peplinski led the 127th Wing through a remarkable period of transition," Vadnais said. "Under his leadership, the wing changed from flying F-16 and C-130 aircraft to flying A-10s and KC-135s. During that time, Michigan's Citizen-Airmen could not have asked for a better leader than Mike Peplinski."
Peplinski is retiring after more than 32 years of combined service in the Air Force and Michigan National Guard. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he is a command pilot with more than 3,200 hours of flight time in the F-16. He is also qualified as a KC-135 pilot. In 2004, he served as the commander during a deployment of Selfridge Airmen and F-16 aircraft to Iraq. The deployment was the first time American F-16 fighters were operating from a base inside Iraq. He served as the vice wing commander at Selfridge upon his return from Iraq and in 2006 was named the wing commander.
Thomas also has a long affiliation with the Air Force at Selfridge. After initially enlisting as a member of the Air Force Reserve at the base in 1976, he was commissioned in 1983 and flew C-130 aircraft with a combat rescue unit that was then stationed at Selfridge. He transitioned into the Michigan Air National Guard in 1994. In 2004, he was the deployed commander of a C-130 squadron in Uzbekistan in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Selected as a group commander in 2005, Thomas was responsible for the unit in transition from the C-130 tactical airlift mission to the KC-135 global aerial refueling mission. The conversion concluded in 2010 after four major command inspections with outstanding results.
"Col. Thomas is a battle-tested leader who brings a wide breadth of experience to the position of wing commander," Vadnais said. "His background and long association with Selfridge is a great asset as we move into the future."
The Wing is comprised of about 1,700 Airmen, about 1,400 of whom are traditional members of the Air National Guard, serving generally one weekend per month and two weeks of active duty per year. In recent years, many of the Wing's Airmen and aircraft have served in and around Iraq, Afghanistan and in numerous locations in humanitarian efforts. In the first six months of 2011, more than 200 Selfridge Airmen are expected to have been forward deployed at various times to a total of more than a dozen countries. The wing currently flies the KC-135 Stratotanker, a global air-refueling aircraft, and the A-10 Thunderbolt II, often known as the Warthog, a close air support attack aircraft. The wing also has a combat weather flight assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command.
The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge, which is the largest Air National Guard Base in the nation. In addition to the wing, the base is home to a wide variety of military, Dept. of Homeland Security and other federal and state agencies. In total, about 6,000 personnel are assigned to the base.
For more information or to schedule individual interviews please contact the 127th Wing Public Affairs office at 586-239-5576.