Champagne named new Missouri Air National Guard assistant adjutant general

  • Published
  • By Lt. John Quin
  • Special to the 131st
Missouri's adjutant general has named a new assistant adjutant general-Air for the Missouri National Guard at Ike Skelton Training Site on Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the adjutant general, announced Col. Gregory Champagne, the current commander of the 131st Bomb Wing, will succeed retiring Air National Guard assistant adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Cotter.

"Col. Champagne is one of Missouri's most seasoned and respected Airmen," Danner said. "Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a repeated ability not only at leading Airmen, but at adapting to the times. With the 131st Bomb Wing, he has flown F-4s, F-15s, and now B-2s, and played a key role in that wing's transition from a fighter to a bomb wing."

Champagne is a veteran Missouri Air National Guard pilot with more than 3,100 flight hours. He served in Operations Provide Comfort and Southern Watch. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he commanded the 407th Air Expeditionary Group at Tallil Air Base. He is also an operational, fully-qualified B-2 Spirit pilot.

"It's quite the honor to be chosen by the adjutant general for this position," Champagne said. "I want to continue the great work that my predecessor, Brig. Gen. Cotter, has done. He's a great patriot. With the challenges the National Guard is facing, we want to make sure we are becoming even more relevant. The Guard has always evolved based on the needs of the country."

Champagne was instrumental in the 131st's transition from a fighter wing to a bomb wing since 2009. Under Champagne's command, the wing has become a model of a successful classic associate mission with the active duty 509th Bomb Wing, and is the only Air National Guard wing with a nuclear mission. The wing played a key role in Operation Odyssey Dawn, the air campaign over Libya, in 2011.

On Sunday, he completed his fini flight, or final flight, at Whiteman Air Force Base.

"I've been with 131st my entire career," Champagne said. "The 131st has quite a history and has gone through quite the transition in the past seven years. Being wing commander was an honor."

Champagne received his commission through the Air National Guard's Academy of Military Science in 1981. He has served as an instructor pilot and commander, and has a distinguished career in flying operations, logistics and aircraft maintenance. He has also completed staff assignments on the wing level, as well as at National Guard Bureau.

Champagne's military awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal , Air Force Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.