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News | Feb. 13, 2024

New commander takes charge of Wisconsin Air Guard refueling wing

By Master Sgt. Kellen Kroening 128th Air Refueling Wing

MILWAUKEE — Brig. Gen. David May, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Air, joined family, friends and distinguished guests as the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Refueling Wing welcomed its new commander.

Col. Adria Zuccaro relinquished command to Col. Charles “Skipper” Merkel during a formal ceremony Feb. 3. May offered words of praise for both the outgoing and incoming commanders.

"She has led from the front, always continuing to fly, participating in missions and exercises," May said, praising Zuccaro's commitment. “All the Airmen of this wing should know she always advocated for you as people and professionals — she always had your back."

May presented Zuccaro with the Legion of Merit in recognition of her outstanding contributions as the 128th Air Refueling Wing commander. Additionally, she was honored with the Seven Seals award by James Malcolm, the state director for the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve organization, for her unwavering support of their mission.

Before passing the wing guidon to Merkel, Zuccaro addressed her Airmen one last time, emphasizing the importance of love for the nation and dedication to the mission.

"In order to do what your nation asks, you must love this nation — you must treasure freedom," Zuccaro said. “You must embody the mission, stay loyal to the wing, and trust each other.”

As May and Merkel joined Zuccaro at the front of the stage, the symbolic transfer of authority and responsibility occurred with the passing of the wing guidon. Merkel, in his inaugural speech as the new wing commander, expressed gratitude to Zuccaro for her leadership and commitment to positive change.

"Col. Zuccaro is passionate about this wing, relentless in the pursuit of positive change, and unafraid to make bold decisions," Merkel said. “The wing is, without a doubt, better off because of her leadership.”

Merkel brings to the 128th a distinguished career and extensive experience, having served in various roles within the Wisconsin Air National Guard since 2009. His journey, from an F-16 pilot and vice commander of the 115th Fighter Wing to his recent role as deputy wing commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, paved the way to his new role.

Zuccaro will begin her new assignment as the director of plans and programs at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.