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Belardo accepts 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron guidon

Lt. Col. Michael Belardo, the new 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, takes the guidon from Col. Kimbra Sterr, commander of the 131st Maintenance Group during a change of command ceremony during the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing July drill weekend at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Belardo, previously the director of operations for the 509th Operations Support Squadron, is replacing outgoing squadron commander Lt. Col. Matthew Calhoun, who will serve as the new 131st BW vice commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Halley Burgess)

Lt. Col. Michael Belardo, the new 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, takes the guidon from Col. Kimbra Sterr, commander of the 131st Maintenance Group during a change of command ceremony during the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing July drill weekend at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Belardo, previously the director of operations for the 509th Operations Support Squadron, is replacing outgoing squadron commander Lt. Col. Matthew Calhoun, who will serve as the new 131st BW vice commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Halley Burgess)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Lt. Col. Michael Belardo assumed command of the 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron during the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing July drill weekend here.

Belardo, previously the director of operations for the 509th Operations Support Squadron, is replacing outgoing squadron commander Lt. Col. Matthew Calhoun, who will serve as the new 131st BW vice commander.

"I am honored and excited to serve and lead the men and women of the squadron," Belardo said. "They have continually demonstrated their ability to make the B-2 ready for war and they are the professional knowledge bedrock of Whiteman and the B-2."

In his previous role, Belardo was responsible for the combat readiness of more than 200 Citizen-Airmen. He earned his commission through the United States Air Force Academy in May 2000. He was competitively selected to fly the B-2 in the 13th Bomb Squadron in 2005. He joined the Missouri Air National Guard as the assistant director of operations for the 393rd Bomb Squadron and became the first Missouri Air Guard nuclear command and control procedures instructor.

"Having the opportunity to command a squadron, especially one like the 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron that has a long history from Charles Lindbergh to today, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance," he said. "I am humbled and honored."

Col. Kimbra Sterr, 131st Maintenance Group commander, was the presiding officer for the ceremony. She described Belardo as an officer who improved every mission and person he ever works with.

Calhoun also commended Belardo and informed the squadron they are in good hands. 

"I could not be more thrilled to turn over command to Lt. Col. Belardo," Calhoun said. "He is a family man, and I can think of no one better to lead this squadron that has accomplished so much - another Fairchild Trophy and participation of our drill-status Guardsmen in the latest nuclear inspection."

Belardo was joined by his wife, children and parents at the ceremony. He thanked them for their support.

"My wife is my foundation," he told all in attendance. "We have four sons and she is a truly unselfish person that has, at every step, put our family first."