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Eden native, USAF Col. Russell Mammoser takes command of the 55th at Nebraska

United States Air Force Colonel Russell W. Mammoser, an Eden native, is flying pretty high these days, both figuratively and physically.

Mammoser, 47, has just been promoted to Commander of the 55th Operations Group at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

He now commands a group that executes worldwide reconnaissance, command and control, presidential support and treaty verification missions, which are directed by the United States President and Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, unified commanders and National Intelligence Agencies. It is the largest operations group in the U.S. Air Force.

Not bad for someone who started out as a basic enlisted airman 29 years ago.

“I was going to Erie Community College after high school but decided I wanted to do something else,” said Mammoser.

“I went to all the recruiters in the area and did well on the tests. So I decided to join the Air Force as a fuel specialist in 1983.”

Using the opportunities offered through the military, Mammoser went to college, earning an associate’s degree in fuels management from the Community College of the Air Force in 1987; a bachelor’s degree in business management from Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire in 1989 and later, a master’s degree in human resource managements from Wilmington College, Delaware in 1993.

“The USAF encouraged advancing one’s education and I took advantage of that,” Mammoser said.

After serving as an enlisted member of the service for almost seven years and earning his first two degrees, he graduated from Officer Training School in 1990 and completed his undergraduate pilot training at Reese Air Force Base in Texas.

“At the time the Berlin Wall was coming down (1989), I was asked to attend OTS, and I always wanted to be a commissioned officer,” he said. After OTS he was sporting his second lieutenant bars.

After completing his pilot training in Lubbock, Texas, he was assigned in June 1991 as a fuels management officer for the 436th Supply Squadron at Dover AFB, Delaware for two years. While there, he was promoted to first lieutenant in April 1992.

From February 1993 to August 1997, he was the C-5 aircraft commander and instructor pilot for the 3rd Airlift Squadron, also at Dover AFB. The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a military transport aircraft built by Lockheed, and is among the largest military aircraft in the world.

“We flew some special missions then,” he said.

During this time he completed Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB in Alabama in 1996 and he was promoted to the rank of captain.

Mammoser was transferred to Travis AFB in California in August 1997, where he served as a C-5 instructor pilot and evaluator for the 21st airlift squadron until March 2000.

He was then sent to Offutt AFB for the first time, to serve as an E-4B instructor pilot, chief of safety and assistant operations officer for the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron. While there he was promoted to major.

In June 2003 he attended Command General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in June 2004.

After graduation, he was sent back to Offutt AFB, as Chief, Tactics and Review Branch, United States Strategic Command. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel in May 2006

In January 2007 he was assigned as commander of the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron at Offutt, until February 2008, when he was made Command Center Operations Chief for USSTRATCOM, also in Offutt.

He held that position until July 2010, when he left to attend the National War College at Ft. McNair in Washington, D.C. graduating in June 2011.

He then returned to Offutt as commander of the 55th Operations Group Team Two, USSTRATCOM and on Oct. 1, 2011 Mammoser was promoted to colonel.

“I really enjoy this base and being out here,” he said. “One of the things I really like doing is flying the aircraft.”

Mammoser, who is rated as a command pilot, has 4,900 flight hours and has flown T-37s, T-38s as well as the C-5A/B/C and the E-4B.

Over the years he has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Aerial Achievement Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak lead cluster and the Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

Now he is overseeing 12 squadrons and one detachment which operate seven separate models of aircraft.

“These airplanes perform operations for intelligence, surveillance, recognizance, national level command and control along with being the back-up command in the sky,” he said.

Other jobs they perform include monitoring munitions tests, help detect radiation leaks (including when the six nuclear power reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi site were extensively damaged following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake in Japan on March 2011), take photographs of natural disasters and verify that treaties are being abided by.

“There are so many things going on, one is constantly on the move,” Mammoser said.

“Offutt is a solid people area and being here is really great for me and my family,” he said.

A 1982 graduate of Eden Jr./Sr. High School and the son of Gordon “Corky” and Ellen Mammoser of Eden, Mammoser is also the father of two children, Mikaela, 10 and Hunter, 17.

Mammoser went on to say that he tries to come home to Eden at least once a year and spend time with all members of his family.

“My children and family are really important to me. I always work to be there for them, along with spending time with my girlfriend, Lisa (Test).”

For those students who have just graduated high school or college and who are a bit unsure of what to do, Mammoser has this advice.

“Weigh the options, take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and don’t be afraid to go out on a limb,” he said. “The military is not for everyone but for many it is a great way to develop one’s skills, one’s maturity, a sense of citizenship and in many cases you can advance your education.

“All in all, it is a great career. I love it.”

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