Air National Guard commander retires with nearly 36 years of service

  • Published
  • By Jon Dahms

After nearly 36 years of military service, the commander of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Mission Support Group, retired March 5 during a ceremony here.

U.S. Air National Guard Col. Christine Munch, who commands the 111th MSG, a group made of seven units consisting of more than 600 personnel, received her farewell salutes and handshakes from her comrades-in-arms after her retirement ceremony at the base where she has served for more than 16 years of her military career, which spanned a total of 35 years, 10 months, and 20 days.

Distinguished guests included U.S Army Maj. Gen. Mark J. Schindler, Acting Adjutant General of Pennsylvania; U.S. ANG Brig. Gen. Michael J. Reagan, Deputy Adjutant General of Pennsylvania-Air, and Commander of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard; Brig. Gen. Laura McHugh, Deputy Adjutant General of Pennsylvania-Army; and Chief Master Sgt. Paul G. Frisco, State Command Chief of the Pennsylvania ANG. In addition, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas. J. James, Mobilization Assistant to the J5, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy, USINDOPACOM also attended the ceremony.

"I cannot express enough how proud I am of Col. Munch and the long and distinguished career she has had during her military service to the United States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the 111th Attack Wing,” said Col. Deane Thomey, 111th Attack Wing Commander, who presided over the ceremony. “It is an accomplishment in and of itself to retire with nearly 36 years of honorable service. However, to climb to the rank of master sergeant before commissioning and retiring as a colonel during one career is truly exceptional.”

Munch enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1985 as a Security Police Law Enforcement Specialist at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Following her initial assignment of four years, she cross-trained into the personnel/human resources career field.

After serving eight years on active duty, Munch separated and, after a brief break in service, joined the 176th Wing, Alaska ANG, as a Personnel Craftsman. She also served in this capacity with both the 129th Air Rescue Wing, California ANG, and the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina ANG.

Munch reached the rank of master sergeant before she was commissioned as a Personnel Officer in 2001 while stationed in South Carolina. In 2002, she transferred to the 111th ATKW, Pennsylvania ANG.

“I arrived at the 111th as a second lieutenant in March 2002, at which point 83 of our currently serving Airmen still weren’t born,” said Munch during her retirement speech at the ceremony. “Since that time, I was provided fantastic opportunities and fantastic leaders under which I could thrive.”

While assigned to the 111th ATKW from 2002 to 2017, Munch served as the Personnel Officer, Wing Executive Officer, Force Support Officer, Deputy Mission Support Group Commander, Security Forces Squadron Commander, and Wing Inspector General.

In August 2017, she transitioned to a new job as Pennsylvania Air National Guard Director of Staff for the state’s Joint Force Headquarters at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. There, Munch also served as the state’s Director of Human Resources, where she was the principal advisor to the Adjutant General regarding personnel matters for more than 3,700 full-time employees assigned to approximately 100 separate locations in the Commonwealth.

Her career culminated with an assignment that brought her back home to the 111th ATKW to command the 111th MSG from October 2020 to March 2023.

“The seven commanders and Chiefs of the units within the Mission Support Group have been absolutely tremendous,” said Munch when talking about the MSG team she led. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with you as a team to accomplish the support of the Wing and further the missions of our two specialty units.”

The theme of Munch’s retirement speech was “It takes a village,” highlighting key mentors and co-workers who helped and supported her throughout her career. She saved some special remarks for her family.

“Thankfully, when I went home at the end of every day, I also had village people there,” said Munch. “My mom, my sister and my brother have obviously been my longest standing cheerleaders, always supporting me no matter what, even when they couldn’t understand my military jargon. My kiddos and grandson have seen the darkest of my days and never failed to cheer me up, or bring me food during my distance learning classes when I was glued to my laptop.”

She concluded her remarks with a “shout-out” to 111th ATKW leadership and Airmen.

“This Wing has excellent Airmen who want to execute the mission, and you have the best leadership team, not only here at the 111th, but in each Wing across the state and at Joint Force Headquarters,” Munch said. “Life doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger!”