186th ARW gets new commander
from staff and wire reports
Aug. 28, 2003
A new commander was named Wednesday to take over at the Air National Guard's Meridian-based 186th Air Refueling Wing, where a continuing investigation has targeted some past and current officers.
State Adjutant Gen. James H. Lipscomb said Col. James E. Erik'' Hearon, operations group commander at the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson, will become commander of the 186th ARW in a change of command ceremony in Meridian on Sept. 7.
The 186th's current commander, Col. Joe Spraggins, took over in February when Col. David L. Weaver was dismissed amid allegations in an Air Force inspector general's report that Weaver and others broke regulations.
Spraggins had come to the 186th from the Air Guard's Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport. Spraggins is returning to his job as commander in Gulfport, said Maj. Danny Blanton, a Guard spokesman.
This was a situation where he (Spraggins) came to Gen. Lipscomb and requested to go back to the coast where his family lives,'' Blanton said. And Gen. Lipscomb agreed to the request.''
Investigating officer Col. Ken Emmanuel, a staff judge advocate from the Florida Air National Guard, recently conducted a second round of interviews in Meridian with individuals accused of misconduct and others claiming to have information about questioned activities at the 186th, Guard officials said last week.
The current investigation follows a probe completed earlier this year by the U.S. Air Force Inspector General that resulted in the termination of Weaver and the retirement of Lt. Col. Thomas Temple.
The earlier probe substantiated 16 allegations of racism, records falsification and corruption. The Air Force investigator turned over 22 additional allegations against others in the unit, which spawned the current examination.
Emmanuel will transcribe the interviews, reach his conclusions and present his report for legal review before turning it over to Lipscomb, the Guard said.
Hearon is a 33-year veteran of the Air National Guard. He was deployed overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Blanton said Hearon is very qualified flight instructor'' whose combat experience and leadership will complement the talented and capable airmen of the 186th.''