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Unit Icon Says Goodbye

December 2009 -- "Bix has been a unit "ICON" during his time at the 180th Fighter Wing, has done his absolute best and lived up to the Core Values", said Colonel Mark Bartman, 180th Fighter Wing Commander, during a special tribute to honor Lt Col. Ken Bixler during a special retirement ceremony held on November 7 at the 180th's Addison Baker Building. The entire Force Support Squadron, who Bixler was a member of as the personnel director, held a military formation to honor the 35 years of service he gave as a military member. The unit's Command Staff, other military guests and Bixler's family and friends also attended the ceremony.

Bixler entered the United States Air Force in 1974 through the delayed enlistment program. His first assignment, as a personnel specialist, was at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, where he served in the Consolidated Base Personnel Office or better known then as the CBPO, with the 375th Air Base Group. In 1976, with his stylish Ford Pinto and a few donated furniture items, swept Jayne Flory, his high school sweetheart off her feet and married her that same year. In 1978, he was reassigned to the Mobility Air Command Headquarters and started his first tour at the 180th "Tactical Fighter Group" in 1979 where he served in several positions including Customer Service Technician, Personnel Systems Manager and Personnel Superintendent up to 1991.

Bixler was commissioned in 1991 as a Budget Officer and quickly headed north for a three year tour with the Selfridge Air National Guard Base. He returned to Toledo in 1994 as the Director of Personnel, was selected as the Fighter Wing Comptroller in 1998 and answered the call of the Wing's leadership in 2008 to return to his final position as the Director of Personnel.

During the tribute, Bixler was presented with several military honors including the United States Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Second Oak Leaf Cluster, for his outstanding accomplishments from February 2008 through December 2009. During this time, Bixler contributed to the unit's Air Sovereignty Alert Mission, managed the deployment and redeployment of AEF and ECS deployments, coordinated the Air National Guard's first ever Hometown Heroes salute and facilitated the merger of the Mission Support Flight and Services Flight into the Force Support Squadron.

Bixler, who will officially retire on December 31, 2009, also received a letter from President Barack Obama and was presented with the highly coveted Minuteman Trophy from his cousin and unit Command Chief Mike Haas. Jayne Bixler was also recognized for her contributions by Chief Master Sgt. Therese Sadowski, who presided over the tribute, with a Certificate of Recognition and flowers.

"Jayne, you have earned the gratitude not only of our Wing, but our squadron as well, for your devoted work with the Family Readiness Program." said Sadowski. "Your unfailing support and understanding helped to make possible your husband's lasting contributions to our nation."

Bixler spoke about the time he served, the outstanding support provided by his wife Jayne and for the pleasure he took in watching unit members grow. "It was a tremendous honor to serve this country and it was wonderful to watch so many unit personnel grow over the years," said Bixler.

"Lt Colonel Bixler, the men and women of the 180th Fighter Wing are proud to have served with you and you will always be a valuable member of the 180th Fighter Wing, the Ohio Air National Guard and the United States Air Force," said Sadowski and she closed the ceremony. "We wish you and your family every success in your future endeavors."

Congratulations and the very best to our unit icons, Ken and Jayne Bixler, and their well deserved retirement.
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