Cummings succeeds Soto as 176th Maintenance Group commander

  • Published
  • By David Bedard
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs

Alaska Air National Guard Col. Michael Cummings succeeded Col. Edward Soto as the 176th Maintenance Group commander during a July 7 ceremony here.

The group maintains C-17A Globemaster III airlift aircraft, HC-130J Combat King II combat search and rescue fixed-wing aircraft, and HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters.

Soto highlighted how the group partnered with the 176th Operations Group to generate aircraft in support of rescue and airlift missions in Alaska and around the world.

“Your [rescue] aircraft have saved countless lives with four real-world missions in the last week alone,” Soto said. “You generate the combined rotor- and fixed-wing fleet over and above recommended [Air Force] commit rates regularly and went on to win the coveted Jolly Green Award with our operations brothers and sisters.”

Soto highlighted how rescue maintainers deployed overseas three times with their associated operations units during his tenure. With ongoing long-haul airlift missions in the Pacific and the world, Soto said C-17 maintainers were equally engaged in supporting contingency operations.

“On the airlift side, you have essentially been deployed in place since inception moving cargo worldwide, standing presidential alerts and saving the lives of Afghans in the final moments of our presence there,” he said. “As the only Air National Guard unit equipped C-17 total force enterprise, you have reached significant milestones and continue to do so today.”

Soto will soon retire after 26 years of service.

Cummings said he will continue working to improve the group.

“Colonel Soto apologized to me for things he didn’t get to finish,” he said. “My reply to him was ‘Thanks for trying, but there is no finish.’ As this ceremony symbolizes, the next commander picks up where the last commander leaves off. I am humbled and honored to take the banner of this amazing group and continue [Soto’s and the group’s] great work.”