Calhoun assumes command of Missouri National Guard’s 131BW

  • Published
  • By Maj. John Quin
  • 131st Bomb Wing
Col. Matthew D. Calhoun took the reins of the 131st Bomb Wing during an assumption of command ceremony Aug. 1, 2020, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

Missouri National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Levon Cumpton lauded Calhoun’s depth of experience and unique perspective when naming Calhoun as the next commander of the National Guard's only B-2 Spirit stealth bomber wing.

“Col. Calhoun is an outstanding leader with a track record of excellence,” Cumpton said. “He brings a wealth of command experience from both his time as an active duty Airman with the 509th Bomb Wing and as a Guardsman with the 131st BW. His unique perspective will strengthen our partnership and enhance the B-2 mission.”

In his new position, Calhoun will command a wing of more than 1,200 Citizen-Airmen based at Whiteman Air Force Base and Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis. The 131st Bomb Wing, which traces its lineage back to the earliest days of military aviation, is the only National Guard wing to fly the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

“I am honored to lead this Wing and these outstanding Citizen-Airmen,” Calhoun said. “The 131st has a legacy dating back to the era when the unit’s own, Charles Lindbergh, made his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Today’s Airmen exemplify that same fearlessness, innovation and commitment to selfless service. No matter the challenge, I know we will rise to meet it.”

So far, challenges in 2020 have meant continued overseas deployments as well as missions supporting state COVID response efforts. Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing global pandemic, the 131st Bomb Wing continues to stay mission-ready, Calhoun said.

“Every day our Guardsmen are ready for their state and federal mission,” Calhoun said. “Maintaining that high state of readiness while providing an environment that prioritizes health and safety is our leadership team’s top priority. I am proud of the work our Airmen are doing on behalf of their state and nation, even in the face of this year’s unique challenges.”

Before joining the B-2 mission, Col. Calhoun flew more than 250 combat hours as a B-52H Stratofortress bomber pilot, including combat sorties over Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003.

In 2004, he was competitively selected to train as a B-2 pilot. At Whiteman, his assignments included serving as a B-2 pilot and mission commander, B-2 instructor evaluator pilot and culminated in the position of director of operations for the 13th Bomb Squadron.

In 2008, he was assigned as an Air Force Fellow in the Strategic Communication program at George Mason University, Va. The following year, he was assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., as the lead in standing up the Air Force Global Strike Command. While assigned to Barksdale AFB, he also served on a select team that established initial requirements for the future Long Range Strike Bomber, now known as the B-21 Raider.

In 2011, Calhoun returned to Whiteman as the 393rd Bomb Squadron director of operations and later commanded the 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron.

Calhoun transitioned to the Missouri Air National Guard in 2014 as the 131st Bomb Wing chief of safety and then was assigned as commander of the 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. His most recent assignment with the 131st was as vice commander.

“I look forward to continuing a tradition of excellence at the 131st and building on the work of my predecessors,” Calhoun said. “Whether they are protecting our nation from enemies abroad or helping Missouri communities during state emergency duty here at home, our Citizen-Airmen are among the finest men and women serving in uniform today.”