Colonel Michael S. Richardson is the Vice Commander, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The wing’s mission is to build the future of airpower and Thunderbolts are leading the Air Force in developing Airmen and training fighter pilots. As part of the Air Education and Training Command and home to 30 squadrons with F-15, F-16 and F-35A Lightning II aircraft, the 56th is the largest fighter wing in the U.S. Air Force, which graduates more than 100 F-35 pilots, 300 F-16 pilots, and 300 air control professionals annually. The wing is also responsible for the squadrons under the 54th Fighter Group located at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, where F-16 training will move as Luke AFB transitions to become the sole pilot training center for the F-35A, the Air Force’s newest multi-role aircraft. Additionally, the 56th Fighter Wing oversees the Gila bend Air Force Auxiliary Field and is steward of the Barry M. Goldwater Range, a military training range spanning more than 1.7 million acres of Sonoran desert.

Colonel Richardson received his commission in 1992 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Notre Dame. He entered active duty in January, 1995 as a Technology Threat Analyst at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and went on to complete the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program in 1999. During his career, Colonel Richardson has worked in Foreign Materiel Exploitation, served in Europe as a combat-ready pilot and NATO Joint Staff officer, and has performed duties in Air Combat Command and Pacific Air Forces as an F-16 Instructor Pilot, Academic Instructor, and Commander. He is a veteran of Operations NORTHERN WATCH, SOUTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, and NOBLE EAGLE. Prior to this assignment, Colonel Richardson was the Chief of Operations and Training Division, assigned to the Office of Military Cooperation in Cairo, Egypt. There he was responsible for a wide range of mil-to-mil engagement activities across all services, to include the scheduling of training and travel for more than 800 Egyptians per year to the US. He led a team which directly enabled the Commander, USCENTCOM Theater Security Cooperation Plan and oversaw all Navy, Army and Air Force JCS exercises in the country, to include Exercise BRIGHT STAR, USCENTCOM’s largest regional multi-lateral exercise. Further, he supervised the US Embassy’s joint-use C-12 program, and performed duties as a C-12 mission pilot.

Colonel Richardson is a Command Pilot and combat mission commander with more than 2,100 flying hours, including over 200 combat hours flown in the F-16 during operations throughout Southwest Asia.

1992 Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, Honors Program, University of Notre Dame, Ind. 1994 Master of Science degree in Solid State Physics, University of Notre Dame, Ind.
2001 Distinguished Graduate, Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2004 Joint Air Operations Planning Course, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2005 Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence
2013 Air War College, by correspondence
2015 National Laboratory Technical Fellowship (USAF Fellow, with SDE credit), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn.

1. May 1992 - Aug 1994, graduate student, Educational Delay program, Air Force Institute of Technology, enrolled at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana
2. Jan 1995 - Apr 1998, Manager, Laser Threat Assessments, National Air Intelligence Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
3. Apr 1998 - Aug 1999, Student, Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program and Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, Sheppard AFB, Texas
4. Sep 1999 - Jun 2000, Student, F-16 Formal Training Unit, Luke AFB, Arizona
5. Jul 2000 - Jun 2003, Chief of Scheduling & Programming, Flight Commander, Mission Commander, 22d Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem AB, Germany
6. Jul 2003 - Aug 2006, Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Assistant Operations Officer, various units, culminating as Operations Officer, 56th Operations Support Squadron, Luke AFB, Arizona
7. Aug 2006 - Aug 2007, Chief, Support Plans & Electronic Warfare Operations, and Fighter Duty Officer, North Atlantic Treaty Organization CAOCSIX, Eskişehir, Turkey
8. Sep 2007 - Jul 2008, Assistant Operations Officer, 55th Fighter Squadron, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
9. Jul 2008 - Jul 2009, Director of Staff, and Chief of Command Post, 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
10. Jul 2009 – Feb 2010, Commander, 20th Fighter Wing Alert Force, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
11. Feb 2010 - Feb 2011, Commander, 407th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, 407th Air Expeditionary Group, 321st Air Expeditionary Wing, Ali Air Base, Iraq
12. Mar 2011 - Jul 2014, Deputy Commander, 354th Operations Group, 354th Fighter Wing, Eielson AFB, Alaska
13. Jul 2014 - Jul 2015, Student, SDE Fellowship - NLTFP, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
14. Jul 2015 – Jun 2017, Chief, Operations and Training Division, Office of Military Cooperation Cairo, Egypt
15. June 2017 – present, Vice Commander, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, Arizona

Rating: Command Pilot
Flight hours: More than 2,000
Aircraft flown: Primarily F-16C/D, with additional rating in C-12, and training in AT-38B, T-38A, T-37B

MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Joint Meritorious Unit Award with two Oak Leaf Clusters

EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION Second Lieutenant May 16, 1992 First Lieutenant January 5, 1995 Captain January 5, 1997
Major June 1, 2003
Lieutenant Colonel July 1, 2008 Colonel November 1, 2014

(Current as of June 2017)
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We’ve showed you tips for beating the heat, but make sure you look out for your furry friends, too! 🐶☀️ #summersafety #petsafety
Thunderbolts - have you heard there were updates to AFI 36-2903? Check out some of the major changes in this short video and then get smart on all of them by reviewing the full list here: https://go.usa.gov/xU9kX
Krav Maga instructors visited Luke Air Force Base last week to teach our Security Forces #defenders combative techniques that they can use in their daily operations to ensure the safety of themselves and our personnel. Upon completion of the seven-day Krav Maga training, the members became instructor certified to teach military and government employees.
Did you know the AFMS - Luke - 56th Medical Group​ operates a pharmacy in Scottsdale 2 days a week to better serve the beneficiaries in the east valley? Here’s what you need to know: 1️⃣ open Mon & Thur 0900-1500 2️⃣ located at 7301 E 4th St, Suite 7 Scottsdale AZ 3️⃣ call 623-856-3450 for assistance 4️⃣ to refill a prescription call 623-856-3969
Each week an Airman is recognized from the 56th Fighter Wing as the Thunderbolt of the Week for their outstanding performance and dedication to duty. Join us in congratulating the amazing Airmen of Thunderbolt nation!
Have you seen those scenes in movies where the computer geniuses track the bad guys trying to break into a network and stop them?! Well we just got our own version...kind of. 💻⛔️🔍 Luke's network security was recently upgraded with the Mission Defense Team reaching initial operating capability. The MDT monitors base network traffic and communicates any threats, anomalies, or suspicious activity. Learn more about how the Air Force is transforming Communication Squadrons to optimize #cyber security for weapons systems and networks.
“What this program is going to do is provide the stability for the AMU to produce a consistent turn-pattern of aircraft..to produce more pilots, more efficiently, with a higher quality of training.” As part of an effort to increase #F35 maintenance effectiveness and efficiency the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit created a team of unified maintenance Air Force specialties called Lightning Integrated Technicians. Learn how these #Airmen have exceeded Air Education and Training Command mission capable rates with fewer technicians than traditional manpower constructs. https://go.usa.gov/xUBHb
The U.S. Air Force F-35 Heritage Flight Team is heading to the UK to take part in the #RAF100 festivities this weekend!
Thunderbolts - don't make dinner plans for Thursday night...come out to Club Five Six and take part in the PF Chang's food truck!
We recently had the honor of hosting Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan. During his visit he gained insight into #F35 training operations and served as the guest speaker for the 61st Fighter Squadron F-35A basic course graduation. ⭐️ Fun Fact! Under Secretary Donovan graduated from the 426th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at Luke in 1983 as an F-15 Eagle pilot and his initial instructor pilot was an exchange officer from the Royal Australian Air Force. The #61FS continues the legacy of #Mateship and strengthening alliances today. 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 Read more here: https://go.usa.gov/xUWUC
“As you progress in your career and you advance in rank, you find that your responsibilities change and your role in the organization changes. You take what you get and you learn from it. Every experience you have, you take something away.” For DeLand, Fla. native Capt Kristi Machado her journey from college graduate to Enlisted Airman to Force Support Officer is one of optimism and pragmatism that led her to becoming the leader she is today. Read more here: https://go.usa.gov/xUjtp #KnowYourMil
Chief Wright just announced an update to the Enlisted Force Structure. Take a few min to review and if you have any questions let us know and we’ll do our best to get them answered.
Hope everyone is celebrating big (and safe!) today! 🎇🇺🇸
We had a blast at LukeEvents Freedom Fest Friday night! If you couldn't make it or need more fireworks in your life here are a few place around the West Valley you can find them tomorrow night! 🎇Westgate Firework Fest | 5-9pm 🎇⚾️Surprise Fourth of July baseball game and fireworks | game starts at 5:30pm, fireworks 8:30pm 🎇Goodyear's Star-Spangled 4th | 6-10pm 🎇Buckeye's Old-Fashioned Independence Day Celebration | 7-9pm 🎇Red, White and Boom! at The Wigwam | 6-8:30pm 🎇Tolleson 4th of July Celebration | starts at 4pm 🎇Peoria's All-American Festival | fireworks at 9:15pm *some events are free and some require tickets so give them a quick google search to get all the details!* 📸: A1C Alex Cook
#DYK that servicemembers can register to vote by absentee ballot in whatever state they are a resident of? Watch this video from the Federal Voting Assistance Program - FVAP to learn more! You can also call the Luke A&FRC for help getting registered and requesting your ballot at 623-856-6550.
Every day we build fighter pilots. Airman Magazine recently spent time with the 54th Fighter Group to learn more about how we are helping the United States Air Force get after the complex issue of the pilot shortage.
Today we marked the end of our summer change of command season (13 this year!). Thanks again to all the outstanding leaders who departed for your contributions building the future of #airpower and welcome to all new commanders! Pics from all the ceremonies here at Luke (as well as many other events from around TBolt Nation) can be found on our Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/56fwpa/albums
Thunderbolts time for some #SummerSafety reminders! Even though we only hit 110 degrees 5 times so far in June (compared to 11 times from 2015-2017) it’s still hot enough to need to hydrate and wear your SPF every day. 🔥🔥🔥 What else do you do to stay cool?
Today Luke Air Force Base completed our 20,000th #F35 sortie! We continue to build the future of airpower with an amazing total force, partner nation and industry team! Congrats to all who played a part! 🇺🇸🇦🇺🇮🇹🇳🇴🇯🇵 944th Fighter Wing Air Force Reserve Luke AFB F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office F-35 Lightning II
Last week Thunderbolts climbed dirt hills and dove into muddy waters as they took on the Jump in the Mud 5k. Learn how one Thunderbolt got out of her comfort zone and got more than a good workout from it. #mudrun #5K #thunderbolts LukeEvents
Chiefs from across @AETCommand gathered at Luke last week to learn how we are changing the Air Force with innovativ… https://t.co/oAxvhQteJT
RT @AF_Academy: The #CaptainMarvel trailer is finally here. Now, we're not saying we make superheroes but she's not wearing a @WestPoint_US
We build the foundation of MultiDomain Ops by training Command and Control warriors in the 607 Air Control Squadron! https://t.co/6lVelWPxme
RT @AirmanMagazine: Currently the @usairforce has 312 operational squadrons. Looking forward, @SecAFOfficial says to implement the National…
The designation of #ace is one of the greatest in fighter pilot culture. It is reserved for those who have shot dow… https://t.co/AcngQirssA
Cheering for our #Airman’s to be named the winner at #ASC18 👏🏼👏🏼 https://t.co/mnxcuDcPpv
RT @usairforce: .@SecAFOfficial: The #USAF we need to implement the National Defense Strategy has 386 Operational Squadrons. #ASC18 https:/…
Congrats to 56 SFS defender SrA David Hightower on earning 2nd place out of 56 USAF and partner defenders for “Top… https://t.co/VqPAiPUJUo
Later that day, Luke’s sq received another tasking. Luke made the attack w/Wehner providing cover. After Luke hit t… https://t.co/7eWcccDV6R
The morning of Sept 14 1918, Luke and two others strayed from formation pursuing an Observation Balloon. Through a… https://t.co/SziIIXDOuM
The next chapter of Lt Frank Luke Jr’s #18in18 legacy includes his best friend Lt Joseph Frank "Fritz" Wehner. Beca… https://t.co/dcjjfFKz66
We're so proud of SrA Hightower! Only 6 individual awards given for all who participated and he grabbed one! https://t.co/gwbdiAUc1r
RT @DeptDefence: .@Aus_AirForce pilots & maintenance personnel have undergone munitions loading training for the F-35A joint strike fighter…
Our pilots have a lot to worry about when they step to their jet. The Aircrew Flight Equipment #Airmen make sure ea… https://t.co/53sEkgE9u1
We're thinking of everyone on the east coast impacted my Hurricane #Florence. Stay safe! https://t.co/4MtJkOM7cL
Thunderbolts - plan accordingly for traffic diversions next weekend! https://t.co/jYiDMG8npE
100 yrs ago today Lt Frank Luke Jr’s #18in18 legacy began. Luke broke formation to pursue the heavily defended Obse… https://t.co/DH7ZCcjYBW
RT @AETCommand: #ICYMI - the 2018 #AFDefenderChallenge is underway at @JBSA_Official-Camp Bullis this week. Check out the imagery from the…
#Thunderbolts gathered this morning to remember the lives of the 411 first responders lost on Sept 11, 2001. #DYKhttps://t.co/hzKL1PbIXe
The squadron is the heart of the @usairforce. It’s where #Airmen develop their technical and leadership skills. It’… https://t.co/bcFAI7k9a8