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Celebrated wing commander promoted, named Illinois ANG chief of staff

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William P. Robertson has his son, 2nd Lt. James Robertson and his daughter, Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Robertson, remove the colonel devices on his service dress coat and replace them with brigadier general devices during Robertson's promotion ceremony in Peoria, Ill. Nov. 4, 2017.  With the promotion, Robertson becomes the chief of staff for the Illinois Air National Guard, after serving 13 years as the commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William P. Robertson has his son, 2nd Lt. James Robertson and his daughter, Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Robertson, remove the colonel devices on his service dress coat and replace them with brigadier general devices during Robertson's promotion ceremony in Peoria, Ill. Nov. 4, 2017. With the promotion, Robertson becomes the chief of staff for the Illinois Air National Guard, after serving 13 years as the commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Todd Pendleton)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William Robertson, the chief of staff for the Illinois Air National Guard, speaks to the 182nd Airlift Wing at the conclusion of his change of command and promotion ceremony in Peoria, Ill., Nov. 4, 2017. Robertson commanded the wing for 13 years before being promoted to brigadier general and relinquishing command to Col. Daniel McDonough at the ceremony. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William Robertson, the chief of staff for the Illinois Air National Guard, speaks to the 182nd Airlift Wing at the conclusion of his change of command and promotion ceremony in Peoria, Ill., Nov. 4, 2017. Robertson commanded the wing for 13 years before being promoted to brigadier general and relinquishing command to Col. Daniel McDonough at the ceremony. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

PEORIA, Ill. -- The commander of Peoria’s 182nd Airlift Wing has been promoted to the rank of brigadier general and will now serve as chief of staff for the Illinois Air National Guard.

Brig. Gen. William “Robbie” Robertson led more than 2,800 Airmen as the wing commander during his unprecedented 13-year command. During this time, the unit earned five Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and achieved the highest C-130 Hercules mission capable rates in Air Mobility Command and the Air National Guard nine out of the last 10 years.

“His most notable accomplishments are numerous and include leading a wing of outstanding Airmen that has achieved nothing but excellence during his tenure,” said Maj. Gen. Ronald Paul, the assistant adjutant general – Air for the Illinois Air National Guard, in an email to the unit.

Robertson began his military career in 1980 by enlisting as a security policeman with the 182nd Tactical Air Support Group. He commissioned as a second lieutenant to become a pilot after graduating from Bradley University in 1983 and served in roles including air controller, air liaison officer and aircraft commander before becoming the installation’s commanding officer in 2004.

“As I go around in my job as adjunct general, it’s great for me to go around and talk about the most mission capable rated C-130 fleet in the Air Force, and it’s fun to be on the wining team,” said Army Maj. Gen. Richard Hayes, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. “That’s a testament to Robbie’s great work over the last 13 years. It’s my honor and privilege to promote a fine officer. He’s going to do a great job representing the Illinois National Guard at the national level.”

A command pilot with more than 4,800 flying hours, Robertson flew aircraft including the T-41 Mescalero, T-37 Tweet, T-38 Talon, OA-37B Dragonfly, C-26 Metroliner, AT-38B Talon, F-16 Fighting Falcon and C-130 E and H-model Hercules. He served a pivotal role in the unit’s transitions from the OA-37 to the F-16 to the C-130.

“I really look forward to this assignment and I’m looking forward to working with the headquarters team,” said Robertson. “The militia is the cornerstone of our nation and the citizen Airmen and citizen soldiers of our great state will step up to that beckon call.”

Robertson is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Strom, Southern Watch, Joint Forge, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and a recipient of the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals.

“When I think about the great people that I’ve had the pleasure of serving alongside and get to know here at the 182nd Airlift wing, there is not enough time to go around and thank each and every one of you from the podium,” said Robertson. “Each and every Airman here has contributed to the success of the wing. There is something really special about the 182nd and its people. We continue to execute the mission and ensure to maintain the safety of our nation and community.”

182nd Operations Group commander Col. Daniel McDonough was appointed as Robertson’s successor in August, with the change of command ceremony taking place Nov. 4.

“Col. McDonough has been an integral member of the senior leadership and is the right selection to continue all the great accomplishments you have achieved as a team,” said Paul.

“Doing this job for that long and having the ability and energy to remain effective for that long is amazing,” said McDonough. “You definitely left your mark, and I have some massive shoes to fill.”

“Now I can say, as I’m moving on as the chief of staff, that I’ve served with the finest Airmen in the Air Force and across all branches of the service,” said Robertson. “They have developed a thing that we call the ‘Peoria Way’. To all our Airmen out there: Don’t you dare let up.”

The 182nd Airlift Wing has called Peoria home since 1947 and facilitates units from three major commands. The Air National Guard unit’s mission is to provide air, ground, communication and support services to the state and federal governments. Robertson served as the unit’s 15th commanding officer.