MTANG Airman promoted to Brigadier General
By Maj. Rick Anderson, 120th Fighter Wing
/ Published February 09, 2011
Helena, Mont. -- Standing before a packed hall of soldiers, airmen, family and friends, Brig. Gen. Ken Switzer was honored in a dual- promotion ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters in Helena on Saturday.
Bozeman native, General Ken Switzer received his star in December last year and he serves as the chief of staff of the Montana Air National Guard.
A very humbled and unassuming General Switzer said that he felt very lucky to be able to work with all of the Montana team. "Whether it is airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines, state, local or federal agencies and employees, we all share in the most important mission - which is protecting our state and nation."
Fighter aircraft command attention with their lightning speed and agility; likewise, General Switzer's military career commands attention for his unwavering love of flying and a dedication and comrade to those he serves.
A command pilot with more than 4,400 hours, 59 in combat, he has flown the F/A-18 Hornet, F-16 Falcon, T-34 Turbo Mentor, T-2 Buckeye, and the TA-4 Skyhawk. He has also had the very rare opportunity to fly a Russian MiG 29 and a Sukhoi 27. General Switzer earned his pilot wings from Naval Air Station in Meridian Mississippi.
General Switzer was federally activated after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and flew combat air patrol missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle from numerous locations throughout the United States. Additionally, he deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch enforcing the United Nation's mandated No-Fly Zone over Southern Iraq.
In 1990, General Switzer earned a spot on the highly competitive and very prestigious Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, more commonly known as the Blue Angels.
"We had a great mission and I really enjoyed my three years on the Blue Angels Team," said General Switzer. "Everyone was extremely focused and very good natured."
When the Berlin Wall fell, there was a lot of pressure to get a military demonstration team to Russia and other former Soviet Bloc countries recalls General Switzer. "This was a show of good will and friendship."
He had the rare opportunity to fly into Russia, Bulgaria and Romania. "It was very interesting getting a chance to fly with each country's air force and get to know the people," said General Switzer. "Most of them were just like us, trying to do their duty and raise a family."
General Switzer's decision to join the service was as natural as his love for flying. He comes from a strong military family. His deceased father retired as a master sergeant stationed at Malmstrom AFB and his mother retired as a colonel in the Army Reserve in Utah where she now serves as a federal judge. Brother, Doug Switzer, retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Marines, and his uncle, Air Force Lieutenant Hal Henderson was killed in action in Vietnam.
As chief of staff for the Montana Air National Guard, General Switzer will serve as the primary advisor to the adjutant general and the commanding general.
"I will be integral in moving the Joint Force Headquarters Montana Team towards fully operational capable status," said General Switzer. "My initial focus will be to continue to mold the joint staff to respond to any contingency, whether it is federal or state, and to incorporate all respective elements of the Montana National Guard."
General Switzer, along with Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Matthew Quinn, will be part of the dual- promotion ceremony in Helena. This is the first joint promotion ceremony held by the Montana National Guard and the first double brigadier general promotion ceremony.