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Francis named new Missouri Air National Guard assistant adjutant general

Col. Michael Francis, the current commander of the 131st Bomb Wing, will become the new assistant adjutant general-Air for the Missouri National Guard.  (Courtesy photo)

Col. Michael Francis will become the new assistant adjutant general-Air for the Missouri National Guard. (Courtesy photo)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard has named a new assistant adjutant general-Air for the Missouri National Guard at Ike Skelton Training Site this week.

Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the adjutant general, announced Col. Michael Francis, the current commander of the 131st Bomb Wing, will succeed Brig. Gen. Gregory Champagne, the Missouri Air National Guard assistant adjutant general.

"Col. Francis is a truly dedicated professional and the driving force behind Total Force Integration with our active duty B-2 strategic partners at Whiteman Air Force Base," Danner said. "From his time on active duty and throughout his career with the Missouri National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing, he has proven time and again the ability to lead our Airmen on to great success."

Danner added that through Francis' tenure as commander, the 131st has garnered high praise with attainment of full operational capability in its strategic nuclear deterrence mission with the active duty 509th Bomb Wing.

During his command, the wing accolades include a Meritorious Unit Award, an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, two consecutive Fairchild Trophies for "Best Bomb Wings in the Air Force," and visits from high profile leaders, including: Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh III, Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank J. Grass and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody.

Champagne, who has held the assistant adjutant general position since April 2013, has become the Air National Guard assistant to the commander, Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. His previous assignment was as the 131st Bomb Wing commander, with Francis as his vice commander.

"It's quite the honor to be chosen by Maj. Gen. Danner for this position," Francis said. "I've worked alongside Brig. Gen. Champagne for a number of years and will strive to continue to build on the tremendous work he's done.  We have two strong wings in this state and will continue to evolve and work to ensure our Citizen-Airmen are ready to answer our state and nation's call."

Francis entered the Air Force in 1989 after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy. After graduation from undergraduate pilot training, Francis served as an F-15 instructor pilot during two operational tours with the 1st Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia and the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan. Upon returning from overseas, his final active duty assignment was as an operational test pilot within the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

In 1998, Francis transitioned to the Missouri Air National Guard as an F-15 instructor pilot. As a command rated pilot, he has amassed over 3,700 hours in the F-15, T-38, and B-2 while serving as flight commander, aircraft maintenance squadron commander, operations group commander, vice commander and wing commander.

"It has been an extreme privilege to be the 131st Bomb Wing's commander," Francis said. "Looking back from my time as a second lieutenant up to present day, I have far exceeded the goals that I set for myself. I have always tried to be the best at what I do and look forward to the challenges ahead."