Barkhurst bids farewell as 88 ABW vice commander

  • Published
  • By Vince Little
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The 88th Air Base Wing is swapping out its second in command.

In mid-June, Col. Charles Barkhurst will depart for Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he will become financial management and comptroller director for U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. He turns over the vice commander leadership post to Col. Travis Pond.

Pond won’t have far to travel. He moves to the wing after serving as Air Force Materiel Command’s deputy director of contracting at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base the past four years.

Barkhurst, who became vice commander in July 2021, is set to be saluted at a farewell luncheon Monday in the Wright-Patt Club.

“We have accomplished a lot in the two years I have been here, and I feel really good about the future,” he said. “The team is strong and my replacement is awesome. As far as what I will miss about the job, it is always the people. We have a great group of people in the 88th and I will miss them, as well as my peers around the base. They have been a pleasure to work with.”

The 88th Air Base Wing serves as WPAFB’s host unit. It maintains all infrastructure and provides security, communications, medical, legal, personnel, finance, transportation, air traffic control, weather forecasting, public affairs, and recreation and chaplain services for more than 115 mission partners and agencies.

Barkhurst helped steer daily operations for many of those squadrons and units. On and off base, he took part in numerous special events as a command representative or guest speaker.

Those activities ranged from 9/11, Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances around the Miami Valley to Airman Leadership School graduations, WPAFB’s annual Hiring Our Heroes Career Summit, the Little Heroes ceremony, and leadership tradition of serving Thanksgiving and Christmas meals at Pitsenbarger Dining Facility. Barkhurst also attended the annual First Four in Dayton during March Madness and joined Airmen at Military Appreciation Nights hosted by the Dayton Dragons and Wright State men’s basketball team.

Early on as the installation continued navigating COVID-19 restrictions, he provided stability under shifting operational environments between two 88 ABW commanders: then-Col. Patrick Miller and Col. Christopher Meeker. He credits both for figuring out how to safely and effectively operate while taking care of teammates and families.

“My first year was very focused on COVID,” Barkhurst recalled. “Brig. Gen. Pat Miller was the right leader for getting us through that time, and his leadership and focus to keep supporting all of the men and women on WPAFB really stands out. ... Col. Meeker has been the right leader for the post-COVID world. His focus on taking care of Airmen and reopening the base has been awesome to be a part of.”

Barkhurst said wing leaders are pursuing technological advances in mission security, safety, public affairs and facility maintenance.

“I would love to see where the base sits a year from now,” he added. “I think the 88th is in a good place right now. We are focused on taking care of Airmen, ensuring world-class support of our mission partners, and integrating better and better with our local community and its leaders. The future is bright.”

The colonel previously served at Ramstein from July 2009 to July 2011, completing separate stints as budget integration chief with USAFE’s Financial Management Directorate and financial management director for 3rd Air Force.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to USAFE to help resource the defense of our partners and allies in Europe and working to help build partnership capacity in Africa,” he said.

The WPAFB assignment also marked something of a homecoming – Barkhurst’s mother was from Dayton and both of his parents grew up in Ohio.

“Between my family and my roots, Wright-Patt feels like home. It was great catching up with my aunts, uncles and cousins,” he said. “The people of this area are so supportive of our Airmen. That makes it a special assignment. Wright-Patt is just a unique place that unless you have been stationed here, you really don’t understand all of the complex and unique missions that exist here.

“Most of all, though, I will miss all the great people I met at WPAFB and in the community. The Miami Valley is a special place. I am very happy I was able to serve here for the last two years.”