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Local Kingsley Field Airman rises from junior enlisted to Maintenance Group Commander

Col. Lambert

U.S. Air Force Col. Micah Lambert, the 173rd Maintenance Group commander, addresses the audience at his promotion ceremony where he became the first Kingsley enlisted member to rise to the rank of colonel at the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oct. 29, 2020. Lambert joined the unit in 2000 from active duty at the rank of senior airman and commissioned shortly thereafter in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Col. Lambert

U.S. Air Force Col. Micah Lambert, the 173rd Maintenance Group commander, repeats the oath of office administered by Col. Jeffrey Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander, following his promotion to colonel, Oct. 29. 2020. Lambert joined the unit in 2000 from active duty at the rank of senior airman and today becomes the first Kingsley Field, prior-enlisted Airmen to rise to the rank of colonel. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Col. Lambert

U.S. Air Force Col. Micah Lambert, the 173rd Maintenance Group commander, dons his dress blues jacket bearing the eagles of a full-bird colonel for the first time with his family during his promotion ceremony, Oct. 29, 2020. Lambert joined the unit in 2000 from active duty at the rank of senior airman and today becomes the first Kingsley Field, prior-enlisted Airmen to rise to the rank of colonel. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

The 173rd Fighter Wing just watched a homegrown Airman pin on the rank of colonel for the first time in its history.

The wing has had many 0-6s over the years, but for the first time it was placed on the collar of one Col. Micah Lambert who arrived to the base as a junior enlisted member more than 20 years ago.

“I graduated from Mazama High School,” said Lambert; “decided the Air Force would be a good choice and enlisted out of the recruiting office here in Klamath Falls.” This started Lambert on his career path in the active-duty Air Force where he was stationed at Hurlburt Field AFB and Ramstein Air Base.

After four years on Active Duty, Lambert was ready to separate when he met Col. Billy Cox, who would later become the 173rd FW Commander. A local Klamath Falls high school baseball cap caught Lambert’s attention, and they struck up a conversation. Cox told him about Kingsley Field and the opportunities Lambert could find there. Lambert decided Kingsley was where he wanted to be. 

After attempting to transfer to the 173rd FW for six months as he finished out his active enlistment at Ramstein AB, he was no further along. For his final separation he was sent to Beale AFB, California, the nearest active duty base to his home of record in Klamath Falls.

“I literally drove in a rental car from Beale AFB to the front gate here and said ‘here’s my stuff, I’ve been trying to join for six months,’” which appears to be an effective tactic as he was quickly enlisted into the hydraulics shop in the maintenance group.

The intervening years have been filled with tremendous change at the wing and he recounts that time in almost staccato fashion explaining his commissioning as a direct result of September 11, 2001.

“That was a day we all remember,” he said. “We were a training unit ‘loading-live’ and flying CAP (combat air patrol) over San Francisco.”

Lambert commissioned as an officer in the fall of 2001.

He recounts the beginning of the current training mission where the Guard started training active-duty pilots and then the transitioned to becoming the sole F-15C schoolhouse for the entire Air Force and Air National Guard.

During these years he progressed through the ranks from senior airman all the way to lieutenant colonel in 2015. His career has taken him from civil engineering, to maintenance group, and a stint at Joint Force headquarters in Salem, Oregon. 

Along the way there were challenges with maintaining an aging fleet of aircraft.

“Unfortunately when you have some of the oldest airplanes that fly the hardest, we see things before anybody else does,” he said. “When we see a problem two years before anybody else, it’s coming to you—be ready,” he said of the global fleet of F-15C aircraft.

He said navigating all of that change and climbing hurdles has helped prepare him to take the reins of the maintenance group at Kingsley Field and with that the rank of colonel in a ceremony October 29, 2020.

“Overcoming significant challenges and feats that seemed impossible at the time are the most memorable accomplishments and what motivates me today.”    

Addressing the audience assembled at his promotion ceremony in the main hangar, he asked rhetorically, “How the heck did this happen? How was I this enlisted guy who was turning wrenches now here as an O-6 in charge of the maintenance group?”

His answer cited a lineage of service in his family going back to before WWII and the many wingmen throughout his career, many of which were sitting in the audience.  He also pointed to the leaders who have mentored him over his years of service.

“That’s how folks around me have made me what I am today,” he said.