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Larson assumes command of 131st Maintenance Group

Incoming 131st Maintenance Group Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson receives the group’s guidon from 131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Matthew Calhoun during a change of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Larson assumed command from Col. Michael Belardo. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

Incoming 131st Maintenance Group Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson receives the group’s guidon from 131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Matthew Calhoun during a change of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Larson assumed command from Col. Michael Belardo. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

131st Maintenance Group Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson delivers remarks during a change of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Larson assumed command from Col. Michael Belardo. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

131st Maintenance Group Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson delivers remarks during a change of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Larson assumed command from Col. Michael Belardo. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Matthew Calhoun delivers remarks during a change of command ceremony for the 131st Maintenance Group Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Outgoing Group Commander Col. Michael Belardo was relieved by Lt. Col. Chad Larson. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Matthew Calhoun delivers remarks during a change of command ceremony for the 131st Maintenance Group Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Outgoing Group Commander Col. Michael Belardo was relieved by Lt. Col. Chad Larson. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

Outgoing 131st Maintenance Group Commander Col. Michael Belardo passes the group’s guidon to 131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Matthew Calhoun during a change of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Belardo was relieved by incoming Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

Outgoing 131st Maintenance Group Commander Col. Michael Belardo passes the group’s guidon to 131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Matthew Calhoun during a change of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Belardo was relieved by incoming Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

Outgoing 131st Maintenance Group Commander Col. Michael Belardo talks with Incoming 131st Maintenance Group Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson during a change of command ceremony for the 131st Maintenance Group Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

Outgoing 131st Maintenance Group Commander Col. Michael Belardo talks with Incoming 131st Maintenance Group Commander Lt. Col. Chad Larson during a change of command ceremony for the 131st Maintenance Group Oct. 2, 2021 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Colligan)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Experience. It’s a key building block for a leader’s success, and it’s one Lt. Col. Chad Larson has built into a wall he can lean on.

On Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, Larson assumed command of the 131st Maintenance Group from Col. Michael Belardo, who retired shortly after.

“Being selected to be the Maintenance Group Commander is the highlight of my career,” he said.

Larson’s career has been building toward this moment for more than 30 years. The former enlisted maintainer joined the Air Force in 1986 and rose to the rank of senior master sergeant before earning a commission. His experience includes leading two maintenance squadrons and 10 years in command.

Over the course of his career, perhaps no other event has influenced his philosophy more than the mission change in 2008.

Lt. Col. Larson was a key player in transferring maintenance personnel from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis to Whiteman. At the same time, Guardsmen based in St. Louis switched from supporting F-15 Eagles to the B-2 Spirit.

The airframe change forced him to rely on his active duty counterparts at the 509th Bomb Wing. This reliance taught him a good lesson on working as a joint force.

“[Total Force Integration] requires the 131st and 509th Bomb Wings to work as a team in support of the B-2,” he said. “Guard members are typically older and possess extensive knowledge of their assigned aircraft, making them experts of their trade. Combining our strengths into one workforce makes us one of the best aircraft maintenance organizations in the world.”

The Whiteman maintenance units are full of maintainers he knows and has worked with for many years.

“To the men and women of the [maintenance group], I am very proud to serve with you,” he said. “Thank you for what you have given to our organization and this mission. I am excited to see what we can accomplish in the future.”

The 131st Maintenance Group is part of the 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, providing full spectrum, expeditionary, B-2 global strike and combat support capabilities.