New 173rd FW Vice Commander notches historic first for Kingsley Field

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

The 173rd Fighter Wing welcomed its first active-duty vice commander, Aug. 13, 2019. As an Air National Guard unit, this is unique and first for Kingsley Field.

Lt. Col. Brad Orgeron, the newly appointed vice wing commander for the 173rd FW, was officially confirmed into his dual-status role Aug. 13.

Being dual-status means that Orgeron will remain a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force and will also accept a commission into the Oregon Air National Guard. This is usually an “either-or” proposition, but this authorization means that while he is a commander at Kingsley Field, he will have Title-10 (federal) and Title-32 (state) authorities to execute his role in supporting all of the Airmen assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing, both federal and reserve component. When his assignment at Kingsley Field concludes, he’ll simply revert to his commission in the U.S. Air Force.

This complex process began last November and took ten months to finalize.

Orgeron explained why that process took so long saying, “Once the state of Oregon decided they wanted me to be the vice wing commander, the approval process had to go through the state to the governor, up to the National Guard Bureau and the director,” he said. “On the active-duty side it had to go through Air Combat Command and Gen. Holmes, and then it had to go through the Air Force staff to the chief of staff and the Secretary of the Air Force; and once that was signed off it had to go through the Secretary of Defense staff for final approval by Secretary Esper.”

That final approval arrived in the form of a letter addressed to Oregon Governor Kate Brown and signed by Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper reading, “Lieutenant Colonel Orgeron may accept a dual-status commission in the Oregon Air National Guard, without prejudicing his rank and without vacating his regular Air Force appointment, for the purpose of serving as the Vice Commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing, for a period of up to 30 months.”

Orgeron is not a stranger to Kingsley Field.  Previously, Orgeron commanded the 550th Fighter Squadron, which is the active association here.  His tenure spanned from May of 2016 until June of 2018 before heading to Washington for a year.

“It’s an outstanding opportunity for me and my family, we are really looking forward to being back,” he said.

Orgeron says a key focus for his tenure will be building resiliency among the Airmen at Kingsley Field. To that end he mentions plans for a health and wellness center, to help Airmen develop the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness—physical, mental, social, and spiritual.

He goes on to say that although his appointment process is very rare and unusual, the reality is that the demands of the position remain unchanged and he will carry on the work that previous vice commanders have undertaken before him.  He sums it up saying it’s taking care of Airmen, working on the health of the fleet, and helping ensure the health of the future mission at the 173rd Fighter Wing.