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Col. Rusty L. Ballard is the commander of the 182nd Operations Group in Peoria, Illinois. He is responsible for the management, training and development of the group’s Airmen, which consists of the 169th Airlift Squadron and the 182nd Operations Support Squadron.

Col. Ballard began his military career in 1993 as an enlisted utility equipment repairer with the Illinois Army National Guard. He received his commission through the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School in 1998 and went on to become a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot with Company A, 1-106th Aviation Battalion in Decatur, Illinois. He served as the executive officer for the commander of the 1-106th Aviation Battalion in Peoria, Illinois, before transitioning to the Illinois Air National Guard in 2003 to become a C-130H pilot with Peoria’s 182nd Airlift Wing. From 2015 to 2018, Col. Ballard served as an Air National Guard representative at Air Mobility Command in Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, before returning to the Peoria to become the 182nd Operations Group commander.

Col. Ballard is a command pilot with more than 4,600 hours in military and civilian aircraft, including the UH-60 Black Hawk and C-130H Hercules. He has deployed multiple times in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Joint Forge and Atlantic Resolve. Prior to his current position, the colonel was the Air National Guard advisor to Air Mobility Command A3 Operations at Scott AFB, Illinois.

1994 U.S. Army Basic Training, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
1994 U.S. Army Advanced Individual Training, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.
1998 U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Ill.
2000 U.S. Army Initial Entry Rotor Wing Course, Fort Rucker, Ala.
2000 U.S. Army UH-60 Qualification Course, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
2000 Bachelor of Science, Management, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
2001 U.S. Army Aviation Captains Career Course, Fort Rucker, Ala.
2005 Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas
2006 C-130 Mission Qualification, Little Rock AFB, Ark.
2008 C-130 Aircraft Commander Pilot Checkout Course, Little Rock AFB, Ark.
2011 Squadron Officer Course, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2013 C-130 Instructor Pilot Course, Little Rock AFB, Ark.
2014 Air War College, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2017 Master of Arts, Management and Leadership, Webster University, Webster Groves, Mo.
2017 Safety and Accident Investigation Board President Course, Andrews AFB, Md.
2018 Director of Mobility Forces Course, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

1. June 1993–January 1997, Utility Equipment Repairer, Detachment 1, E Co., 1-106th Aviation Battalion, Decatur, Ill.
2. January 1997–August 1998, U.S. Army Officer Candidate, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Ill.
3. August 1998–March 1999, Executive Officer to the Commander, 1-106th Aviation Battalion, Peoria, Ill.
4. March 1999–January 2003, Platoon Leader/UH-60 Black Hawk Pilot, A Co., 1-106th Aviation Battalion, Decatur, Ill.
5. January 2003–October 2003, Executive Officer to the Commander, 1-106th Aviation Battalion, Peoria, Ill.
6. October 2003–March 2015, C-130H Mobility Pilot, 169th Airlift Squadron, Peoria, Ill.
7. March 2015–February 2017, ANG Liaison to A3 Operations, Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill.
8. February 2017–August 2018, ANG Advisor to A3 Operations, Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill.
9. August 2018–Present, Commander, 182nd Operations Group, Peoria, Ill.

Rating: Command/evaluator pilot
Flight hours: More than 4,600
Aircraft flown: TH-67, OH-58, UH-60, T-37, C-12, C-130H

Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal

Illinois Military Long and Honorable Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Illinois Military Attendance Ribbon with “11” device
Illinois State Active Duty Service Ribbon with oak leaf cluster

Second Lieutenant Aug. 23, 1998
First Lieutenant Aug. 23, 2000
Captain Dec. 10, 2002
Major Dec. 21, 2006
Lieutenant Colonel Nov. 5, 2011
Colonel March 27, 2017