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Col. Gregory Champagne named commander, 131st Bomb Wing

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE -- Col. Gregory S. Champagne has been named commander of the Missouri National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Champagne is well suited to lead the 1,100-member wing, said Brig. Gen. Stephen Danner, Missouri National Guard adjutant general.

"Col. Champagne is a proven leader and an outstanding Air National Guard officer," General Danner said. "Under his command, the 131st will continue to lead the way with its crucial B-2 Bomber mission."

Colonel Champagne, who previously served as the wing's vice commander, will succeed the wing's current commander, Col. Robert Leeker.

As vice commander, Colonel Champagne played a key role in the wing's transition from its F-15 Eagle mission at Lambert Air National Guard Base in St. Louis to its current mission. The wing is now a classic associate wing with the 509th Bomb Wing, flying the B-2 Spirit at Whiteman.

Colonel Champagne began his career in the Missouri Air National Guard when he received his commission through the Academy of Military Science. He has flown F-4 Phantoms, F-15 Eagles and achieved combat mission ready status in the B-2 Spirit in 2008.

Additionally, Colonel Champagne has a broad background of experience with assignments in flying operations, logistics, aircraft maintenance, a National Guard Bureau staff assignment and wing staff positions. He has flown combat missions in Operations Provide Comfort and Southern Watch. He commanded the 407th Air Expeditionary Group at Tallil Air Base, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Colonel Champagne has been awarded numerous medals, ribbons and other citations, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leave clusters, Air Force and Army Commendation medals, Air Force Achievement Medal and Joint Meritorious Unit Award.

Champagne is a graduate of Tarkio College in Tarkio, Mo.