Col. Bruce W. Bennett is the commander of the 182nd Maintenance Group, 182nd Airlift Wing, in Peoria, Illinois. He leads several hundred Airmen proficient across 15 Air Force specialty codes providing maintenance and back shop operations for Peoria’s fleet of C-130H3 Hercules aircraft supporting airlift and airdrop capabilities for federal and state operations.
Col. Bennett began his military career in 1991 by enlisting in the Illinois Air National Guard as an F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief. In 1993, as the 182nd Airlift Wing converted to the C-130E Hercules, Col. Bennett cross-trained to become a flight engineer. In 1999, he received a bachelor of science degree in occupational safety from Illinois State University and that same year was selected for pilot training by the 169th Airlift Squadron. He began undergraduate pilot training in October 2000 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
Col. Bennett is a senior evaluator pilot in the C-130H3 Hercules. He has deployed 12 times in support of Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel. Prior to his current position, the colonel was the commander of the 182nd Operations Support Squadron, 182nd Airlift Wing, in Peoria, Illinois.
1999 Bachelor of Science, Occupational Safety, Illinois State University, Normal
2002 Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, Texas
2004 Aircraft Commander Upgrade, Little Rock AFB, Ark.
2006 Instructor Pilot Upgrade, Little Rock AFB, Ark.
2007 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2011 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2019 Contingency/Wartime Planning Course, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1. February 1991–January 1994, F-16 Crew Chief, 182nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
2. January 1994–September 2000, C-130E Flight Engineer, 169th Airlift Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
3. September 2000–August 2006, C-130 Pilot, 169th Airlift Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
4. August 2006–April 2010, Chief of Training, 169th Airlift Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
5. April 2010–February 2015, Chief of Current Operations, 169th Airlift Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
6. February 2015–May 2020, Commander, 182nd Operations Support Squadron, Peoria, Ill. (October 2016–January 2017, Commander, 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia; January–March 2020, Commander, 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 386th Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia)
7. May 2020–Present, Commander, 182nd Maintenance Group, Peoria, Ill.
Rating: Senior pilot
Flight hours: More than 4,300
Aircraft flown: T-37B, T-44A, C-130E and C-130H3
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Achievement Medal
Air Force Combat Action Medal
STATE AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Illinois Military Long and Honorable Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters
Illinois Military Attendance Ribbon with “14” device
Illinois State Active Duty Ribbon
1992 Airman of the Year, 182nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
2004 Joseph E. McElvain recipient
2012 Joseph E. McElvain recipient
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
National Guard Association of Illinois (lifetime member)
National Guard Association of the United States (lifetime member)
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant July 1, 2000
First Lieutenant June 30, 2002
Captain June 30, 2004
Major July 16, 2008
Lieutenant Colonel April 11, 2013
Colonel Nov. 30, 2022
(CURRENT AS OF NOVEMBER 2022)