This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Next month will mark 80 years since the 132d Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard has been in Des Moines, and its mission is extensive.

Saturday marked a change in leadership.

Col. Travis Crawmer started at the base in 1989, when he enlisted and became a cook.

“I originally did it to go to college, to help pay for college as part of a discussion I had with my dad who was in the unit. That’s how i ended up getting in,” Crawmer said.

Three decades later, he’s now responsible for nearly one thousand airmen and women, after being promoted to wing commander.

“When I joined, I would have never thought that I’d be standing here today leading this organization in 2021,” Crawmer said.

Although the Des Moines Air National Guard base is quieter after the departure of the F-16 jets in 2013, the mission continues.

“As people drive by here they should understand that we’re involved in combat operations on a daily basis,” Crawmer explained, “and we’re doing the same good work that we did when we were flying F-16s, it just looks different.”

The mission includes flying operations, targeting intel surveillance, counterdrug efforts, and much more.

“We had almost 100 airmen support the Iowa National Guard’s pandemic response since March,” Col. Mark Chidley, outgoing wing commander, said, “and we’ve had cyber operators defending networks, both for the Secretary of State’s office during the election, but also our emergency operation networks to make sure they were secure.”

Col. Mark Chidley served as wing commander for the past three years, and is confident in Col. Crawmer’s ability to take over. 

One of the main goals for the 132d Wing is to recruit more airmen and women.

If you’re interested in joining or learning more, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.