Delaware Air Guard gets new commander for 166th Airlift Wing

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Delaware Air National Guard
Headquarters, 166th Airlift Wing
2600 Spruance Drive
New Castle, DE 19720-1615 

Sunday Oct. 14 event begins at 2:00 p.m. SHARP. Media must arrive at gate no later than 1:30 p.m. for escort to ceremony spot.

News media are invited. Call Sgt. Matwey at cell 302-593-2126 to confirm.

Photos of incoming and outgoing commanders are available upon request.

Colonel Jonathan Groff resides in Downingtown, Pa., and Colonel Bruce Thompson resides in Cochranville, Pa.

Contact: Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey
Public Affairs Specialist, 166th Airlift Wing
Cell 302-593-2126, or office 302-323-3369
Release No. 2007-10-002 [corrected Release No.] 
Oct. 11, 2007


NEW CASTLE, Delaware - A formal change of command ceremony for the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Airlift Wing will occur at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14 at New Castle County Airport, 2600 Spruance Drive, New Castle, Delaware, 19720. Unit Airmen and invited guests are welcome. News media are also invited; call ahead to confirm attendance.

The outgoing wing commander, Col. Bruce Thompson, has served in the wing's top position since May, 2005. He has 27 years of experience in the Delaware ANG. Col. Thompson has accepted a new position in state headquarters, Delaware ANG. A commercial and military pilot, he commanded his last C-130 military aircraft flight Sept. 20.

The incoming wing commander, Col. Jonathan H. Groff, a pilot, has served as air commander in the 166th Airlift Wing since May, 2007. He has 31 years of military experience, with 27 years of experience in the Delaware ANG. He will continue the duties of air commander after he assumes the duties of wing commander.

The formal change of command ceremony on Oct. 14 is a time-honored military tradition, with all groups and squadrons participating. The effective date of the wing change of command is Oct 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Brigadier General Hugh Broomall, the Deputy Adjutant General for Air, Delaware National Guard, said, "Col. Bruce Thompson served two-and-a-half-years as the wing's leader as the unit continued combat duty in Southwest Asia, extended one of the best flying safety records in the Air National Guard, and membership grew by 14 percent in the Delaware ANG to reach the highest level in many years. Col. Thompson's broad experience in civilian and military spheres is coupled with his dedicated, enthusiastic leadership is a chief reason why the wing is successful. Wing Airmen have met the dual-mission of homeland security under command of the governor, and providing trained Airmen to serve our nation when ordered for federal duty. On top of all of this, Col. Thompson led the base as the wing survived realignment by the Department of Defense in 2005, and days later as the wing launched continuous Hurricane Katrina relief missions. The wing had has an exceptional leader during these tumultuous times, and I am both grateful and proud of the service rendered by Col. Thompson. I am also pleased that he will continue his service to the Delaware ANG in another capacity in state headquarters as he helps set the future direction of the organization."

Discussing incoming wing commander Col. Jonathan Groff, Gen. Broomall said, "The command of the wing is being passed to someone grounded in all aspects of the unit's operations. Col. Groff saw overseas duty in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom starting in 2003. He has helped make the wing into the capable unit that it is. Col. Groff knows how to lead the wing so it meets the challenges of the present and the future. Wing Airmen are lucky to be led by yet another experienced hand to guide the day-to-day operations of a very busy unit."

Outgoing wing commander Col. Bruce Thompson, a resident of Cochranville, Pa., graduated from Henderson Sr. H.S., West Chester, Pa. in 1974. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ. in 1975, and graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from West Chester Univ., Pa. in 1979. He completed Squadron Officer School by correspondence in 1986, completed Air Command and Staff College by correspondence in 1995, and completed Air War College by correspondence in 2001.

He was appointed in May 2005 as commander, 166th Airlift Wing.

Col. Thompson began duty in the Delaware ANG in April, 1980 as a 2nd Lieutenant and received promotion to colonel on March 21, 2002.

From 1981 to 2001 he served as in 10 positions of increasing responsibility under the 166th Operations Group. In May, 2001 he was appointed 166th Operations Group Commander, serving from before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks through the 2003 deployment in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom of the largest group of unit Airmen and aircraft since Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Col. Thompson received his pilot wings from Reese AFB, Texas in April 1981. He is rated as a command pilot with over 4,500 flight hours (virtually all of those hours in C-130 Hercules transport aircraft) with 32 combat sorties and 197 combat support sorties as a C-130 pilot. He is a veteran of Desert Shield/Storm, and was actively involved with Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom through both volunteerism and mobilization since Sept. 11, 2001.

When not activated, Col. Thompson is normally employed full time with U.S. Airways, Inc. as a Captain on the Airbus 319, 320 and 321 aircraft with over 19,000 hours of total civilian flying time.

Col. Thompson has received numerous military awards and decorations including the Meritorious Service Medal with one device, the Air Medal with one device, the Aerial Achievement Medal with one device, and the Air Force Commendation Medal with one device. 

Incoming wing commander Col. Jonathan Groff, a resident of Downingtown, Pa., graduated from Salisbury High School, Allentown Pa. in 1973. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1976 and was assigned to Charleston AFB, S.C. after graduating with honors from the Aircraft Maintenance Specialist program at Chanute AFB, Ill. Col. Groff joined the Delaware ANG in June 1980 and was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science. He completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, Okla. August 1981. Col Groff is a candidate for a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

In May, 1986 he began a fulltime career as a technician in the Delaware ANG serving in 142nd Airlift Squadron positions as tactics officers, aircrew scheduler, training officer, and ultimately as chief of standardization and evaluation in the operations group.

In April 1996, he was assigned as the wing chief of safety and was a distinguished graduate from the Flight Safety Officer course, University of Southern California, at Kirtland AFB, N.M., with a brief follow on assignment as Director of Operations, 142nd Airlift Squadron. In August 2000 he was appointed as commander of the 166th Operations Support Flight with a dual role as the 166th Operations Group Air Operations Supervisor. In May 2005 Col. Groff took command of the 166th Operations Group.

In May 2007 he was assigned as air commander in the 166th Airlift Wing, working directly under the wing commander.

Col Groff served as the deployed Director of Operations during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom for a combined combat squadron of C-130 units at three deployed locations including duties conducted within the largest ever deployed C-130 Wing in the history of the Air Force. He also deployed as the mission commander responsible for all deployed 166th Airlift Wing personnel in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His last promotion, to colonel, occurred June 30, 2005.

Col. Groff is a Command Pilot with over 6000 hours of military flight time including combat hours in Operations Desert Storm, Balkans conflict, Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

Col. Groff has received various awards and decorations, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

This release is in the public domain, and any part may be used as written.

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