Meet the new 341st MXG commander

Col. David Lair, 341st Maintenance Group commander, finishes up some paperwork at his desk April 2.  Lair took over as commander of the 341st MXG on March 15.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Cortney Paxton)

Col. David Lair, 341st Maintenance Group commander, finishes up some paperwork at his desk April 2. Lair took over as commander of the 341st MXG on March 15. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Cortney Paxton)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- After more than 25 years of Air Force service and two previous assignments to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Col. David Lair joined Team Malmstrom once again as the new 341st Maintenance Group commander March 15.

Lair's family history, rich with military heritage, is what made him to want to join the Air Force. He grew up in an Air Force lifestyle as his father served nine years with the service; that, along with his great grandfather's role in World War I, is what really inspired his decision to join.

"I would say my family lineage in the military is what got me interested," he said. "My great grandfather was in World War I. My grandfather was also drafted into World War II, but wound up being medically disqualified because of a spot on his lung when they took an x-ray. So he was sent home before he had the opportunity to serve. I was actually born at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota when my dad was in the military ... he was really good at identifying airplanes and I remember when we lived at Offutt [AFB, Neb.], he would point them out and say what kind of plane it was. We attended air shows together as a family and I shared his love for the Air Force and airplanes. Mom and dad also talked about the sense of family in the Air Force and that appealed to me and got me interested in the Air Force."

Lair earned his commission through Officer Training School in 1988 after he had previously gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Colorado in Denver.

"I graduated after four years in college and then worked for two-and-a-half years in the Defense Industry and after that two-and-a-half years is when I decided to go to OTS," the colonel said.

He earned his commission with three goals in mind; to serve 20 years, retire as a lieutenant colonel and be a squadron commander at some point of his career. Now, after exceeding all three goals, his new goals are to serve 30 years, deploy at least once and set all of his Airmen up for success.

His 25-year Air Force career started at Minot AFB, N.D., as a missile combat crew commander and instructor. He then traveled to Offutt AFB, Neb., where he served as an ICBM Test Programs employment officer, but his third assignment in the Air Force - to Woomera Air Station in Australia where he served as the 5th Space Warning Squadron flight commander - was one he'd never forget.

"If I had to pick a favorite assignment, I would probably say it was Australia mostly because it was just so unique and not very many people get the chance to get stationed there," he said. "It was an easy transition because everyone speaks English, but it also gave us an opportunity to live for two years and three months overseas and for me to work with Australian military personnel. There were Australian defense personnel that worked there, so it gave me an opportunity to see how another nation's military operates. We jointly operated the Defense Support Program satellites."

From there, his career brought him here to Malmstrom two times where he served as a generation flight commander with the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron from 1999 to 2001 and then as a Deputy Commander for the 341st MXG from 2007 to 2011. He also served various positions across the nation, including one at Peterson AFB, Colo., a second one at Minot AFB, N.D., and finally one at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, before taking command of Malmstrom's maintenance group.

"I think what will help me most in this job is my operations and maintenance background because I've spent about half of my time in missile operations and the other half in missile maintenance," Lair said. "In the maintenance group, it helps to understand the operations side because we work with the operations group every day. I think it helps foster communication. The bottom line on that is we all have our own duties and responsibilities within all the wing's groups, but we're all interested in doing the same thing and that is accomplishing the wing's mission as a team."

As a mission-oriented service member, Lair devotes the majority of his time to the success of his people; however, at the end of the day, when he takes off his uniform, his attention turns to his wife, Diane, and their two kids Dana, 23, and Derek, 21, who are both in college.

During his off-duty time, Lair enjoys riding and working on his Honda VTX motorcycle, hunting, fishing and mountain biking. Also, while they're in Montana, he and his wife plan to do more hiking, especially up at Glacier National Park.

Lair has one overall goal for his position as the new 341st MXG commander - to help each and every one of his Airmen succeed in their individual jobs and thus help the deter and assure mission of Malmstrom AFB remain successful every day. He's proud to be following in the footsteps of the previous MXG commander who he says helped the group make "great strides in overcoming a maintenance backlog," and plans to continue the trend set forth before him.

"I want my Airmen to know that I'm approachable and I want to listen to their concerns - I want to listen to their ideas and their innovations," the colonel said. "I want to make sure that they know I have an open-door policy and they can come see me any time. We have a great wing commander and outstanding group and squadron leadership at Malmstrom right now. I sense that there is a lot of teamwork and a lot of camaraderie at this wing and that's what I like about being here."