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)