Wright-Patterson Commander Removed from Command

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Col. Christopher Meeker, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander
Col. Christopher Meeker, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, gives welcoming remarks at a community reception marking Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s 96th anniversary, Oct. 12, 2023. (R.J. Oriez/U.S. Air Force)

The commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was relieved of command Friday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead, a statement from the base said.

Col. Christopher B. Meeker was removed by Lt. Gen. Donna D. Shipton, commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. Meeker assumed command in July 2022.

Shipton announced that Col. Travis W. Pond, 88th Air Base Wing deputy commander, has been appointed as interim wing commander.

Pond has been the deputy commander since June.

"I made this decision in the best interest of the men and women of the 88th Air Base Wing," Shipton said in the statement.

Asked to elaborate on the announcement, a spokesman for Air Force Materiel Command referred back to the release and declined to go further.

Pond replaced Col. Charles Barkhurst, who was sent to Ramstein Air Base, Germany in June, where he is the financial management and comptroller director for U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. Pond served as Air Force Materiel Command's deputy director of contracting at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base the past four years.

The commander of the air base wing is the installation commander at the large Air Force base.

Meeker succeeded Col. Patrick Miller as 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander during a change of command ceremony in July 2022.

Meeker, a career civil engineer, came to Wright-Patt from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he led the 86th Civil Engineer Group.

The 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson reports to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), which is part of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC). Lt. Gen. Donna Shipton recently assumed command of the center. AFMC and AFLCMC are headquartered at Wright-Patterson, which is arguably the center of Air Force logistics and research work.

The 88th Air Base Wing is one of the largest air base wings in the Air Force with more than 5,000 officers and enlisted Airmen, Air Force civilians and contractor employees.

The base is home to some 35,000 military, government civilian, and contractor employees and associate units.

The 88th Air Base Wing serves as the base's host unit. It maintains infrastructure and provides security, among other roles, for more than 115 units.

Leaders of the Dayton Development Coalition, the local arm of JobsOhio which has made protecting jobs at Wright-Patterson among its highest priorities, declined to comment Friday.

The last prominent officer to lose command at Wright-Patterson was Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, former commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, in January 2020.

After being convicted of one specification of abusive sexual contact against his brother's wife, Cooley retired in May last year as a colonel.

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