New Deputy Air Adjutant General to Focus on Improving Training, Facilities

  • Published
  • By Captain Andrew Schmidt
  • 167th Airlift WIng
Retired Col. Russell Eugene "Gene" Altizer, former vice commander of the 130th Airlift Wing, was named as the Deputy Air Adjutant General for the West Virginia Air National Guard in September 2008. He replaces retired Gen. V. Wayne "Speedy" Lloyd, who held the position since retiring as the 167th Airlift Wing commander in 1998.
Col. Altizer will now act as the primary air liaison officer for the state, working
directly for the adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, and working closely with
Brig. Gen. James Hoyer, director and chief of staff of the West Virginia National Guard,
and Col David T. Buckalew, director of the air staff. His position includes the oversight
of major projects throughout the state and coordinating the various units and organizations involved. It also includes
frequent travel to the 167th Airlift Wing, although his office is located in Charleston.
A former navigator with the 130th, he retired in 2002 with 30 years of military service.
"I was somewhat surprised when I was offered the position," he said. "But after consulting with my wife and talking with Gen. Lloyd, I realized the impact I could have and soon accepted."
One project in which he is currently involved is the Logan County airport proposal. "We are working to develop a landing spot for C-130s there, and about $569,000 is already dedicated to building and reinforcing the LZ," he said.
In addition, another major project still in the planning stages is to recover a strip mining facility east of the Logan airport to develop it into a Department of Defense facility for drop zone training. The project involves coordinating activities between Massey Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Resource Partners, the current owner of the property. "It could be a great win for everyone if the
land is improved and the Guard is able to improve training," he said.
Closer to the 167th, Col. Altizer is working on a project to remove the old, Vietnam War-era dormitory on base and replace it with a new one using state funds. "The project will take some time, but the planning is moving forward," he said.
"If I can help the troops in any way, then I will get it done," he said, noting that he
has an open-door policy when it comes to listening to the concerns of Airmen.
In addition to all of these responsibilities, he has also been tabbed by Gen. Tackett to oversee the state's participation and membership in the National Guard Associations of the U.S. and West Virginia.
An avid golfer and sports fan, Col. Altizer has been married to his wife for 40 years. She is a retired teacher who recently returned to work just as he did. He said that the only downside of accepting the position was that he is no longer able to play five or six rounds of golf per week.
Col. Altizer noted that there has been a tremendous amount of improvement at both state Air Guard bases, including the $260 million C-5 conversion project here on base and the new hangars being constructed at the 130th. He credits this reinvestment in facilities and training to the hard work of Sen. Robert Byrd and Gen. Tackett over the last decade. "What they have accomplished has been phenomenal," he said.
"These projects are great for the state and great for our people ... There are lots of good things happening at both bases."