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Francis assumes command of 131st Bomb Wing

Missouri National Guard adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, incoming 131st Bomb Wing commander, Col. Mike Francis, Missouri National Guard assistant adjutant general-air, Col. Greg Champagne, and 131st Bomb Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Rich Pingleton stand at attention while the order is published at the change of command ceremony at Whiteman AFB., March 3.  (National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Navarro)

Missouri National Guard adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, incoming 131st Bomb Wing commander, Col. Mike Francis, Missouri National Guard assistant adjutant general-air, Col. Greg Champagne, and 131st Bomb Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Rich Pingleton stand at attention while the order is published at the change of command ceremony at Whiteman AFB., March 3. (National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Navarro)

WHITEMAN AFB, Mo -- The National Guard's only B-2 unit gained a new commander at 1:31 p.m. Sunday when Col. Michael J. Francis assumed command of the 131st Bomb Wing in a ceremony held here.

Col. Gregory Champagne, Assistant Adjutant General-Air, announced the decision last month. "Colonel Francis brings over 23 years of military service, over 14 years in the Missouri Air National Guard," he said. "He was the first ANG B-2 Operations Group Commander and most recently served with distinction as my Vice Wing Commander. He is the right choice to move the 131st Bomb Wing from a transitioning unit to an operational unit."

Missouri National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, presided over the ceremony and thanked Colonel Champagne for his service before praising Francis and the men and women of the 131st. "The mission that you have here takes extraordinary people which this hangar is full of. But it also takes extraordinary leaders, NCO and the SNCO ranks, and commanders," Danner said.

The traditional exchange of the colors provided visual confirmation of the change of leadership. Col Champagne handed the blue guidon to Danner, who in turn handed the flag to Francis, signifying the passing of command.

After Col. Francis assumed command, he thanked the distinguished guests, his family, and 131st Airmen.

"What you do every day is important. It's important to our state and important to our nation. That you do it well is critical to our success," Francis said.

Francis also thanked his predecessor.

"On behalf of the men and women of the 131st Bomb Wing, thank you for your tireless efforts in transitioning our unit from its proud Saint Louis heritage to one of the nation's premiere bomb wings. You have put the 131st on solid ground here at Whiteman," he said to Champagne.

Francis left the men and women of the 131st with one final challenge. "This is your wing, not mine. You make it the wing that you want it to be. You make it go, you make it great, you make the difference. I look forward to serving alongside all of you and have every confidence in our continued success."