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Col. Howard “Phil” Purcell Commander 162nd Fighter Wing

New Commander for 162nd Fighter Wing By David B. Pittman The largest Air National Guard fighter wing in the nation – the 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson International Airport – has a new commander. He is Col. Howard “Phil” Purcell, a former vice wing commander from the 192nd Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Brig. Gen. Edward Maxwell, commander of the Arizona Air National Guard, said Purcell was on track for prominent leadership roles in Virginia, but opted for the opportunity to take the top job at the nation’s premier pilot training facility for the F-16 fighter. “I asked him why he wanted this job and his answer was simple: ‘I want to serve in mission, with the airmen,’ ” Maxwell said at a Nov. 2 ceremony at TIA in which Purcell assumed command of the 162nd Fighter Wing. Purcell is the fighter wing’s 12th commanding officer since it was formed in 1956. He is a veteran of operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, with 26 years of service and more than 3,000 flying hours in the F-16 and F-22 Raptor. He replaces Brig. Gen. Michael 146 BizTucson


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“Mick” McGuire, who is now adjutant general for the Arizona National Guard. Purcell told BizTucson he loves Tucson and couldn’t be happier with his new assignment. “The airport facilities are outstanding and we have an excellent relationship with the Tucson Airport Authority,” he said. “Tucson is a great place to live and fly. A majority of our airmen grew up in Southern Arizona and have family in the local area. We are proud to be part of the community and greatly appreciate the support we receive from all of Tucson and the state of Arizona.” The 162nd Fighter Wing has more than 43 years of experience in fighter training and more than 23 years of experience in training military pilots from countries that are U.S. allies. The wing has graduated more than 7,000 fighter pilots since 1969. Purcell said the 162nd accomplishes a broad set of missions in support of both the state and federal governments. “We have the best F-16 training program in the world and are responsible

for building lasting relationships with our country’s partner nations,” he said. “We fly the MQ-1 Predator in support of contingency operations across the globe, we sit in 24/7 air sovereignty alert to protect the skies over the southwestern United States, and we train and equip the entire wing to be ready to respond wherever and whenever the country or state of Arizona requires. “The 162nd’s tradition of excellence is due to the incredible men and women who make up our wing,” he said. “They are a talented and professional group who are proud to serve the state and our nation.” Purcell praised Air Guardians, a Tucson support group of the 162nd Wing, and the local business community for all they do to assist the Air National Guard in Tucson. “The support of the Air Guardians and members of the Tucson business community has been instrumental in our daily mission success and our integration into the local community,” he said. “They are irreplaceable wingmen for our unit.” Biz

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