New general leads key command at Wright-Patterson

Gen. Richardson now leads ‘Air Force’s most important command’

The command responsible for virtually every Air Force weapons system has a new leader.

Newly promoted Gen. Duke Z. Richardson succeeded Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr. as commander of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) Monday morning at a ceremony at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. He is the 13th AFMC commander.

“Today, we pause and honor one outstanding leader and welcome the next,” said Gen. Charles Brown, Air Force chief of staff, who presided over the change-of-command ceremony.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall was on hand at the museum, as was JoAnne Bass, the chief master sergeant of the Air Force.

Brown praised Bunch as a leader who “took care of his people” while focused on sustainment and modernization of planes and weapons.

“He served at the one of the challenging times for this command,” Brown said, noting that Bunch, a former B-52 pilot, served in the Air Force for 38 years. His AFMC command was his fifth assignment at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The chief of staff also hailed Richardson, saying at all assignments, “His intelligence and tenacity have been proven time and again.”

“With the strength of this 90,000-person team, I promise you, we will not let you down,” Richardson said in his first remarks.

Headquartered at Wright-Patterson, AFMC manages more than a third of the Air Force budget, managing and dispersing funds across multiple installations, supporting research and development and many other tasks. The command includes more than 87,000 uniformed and civilian Airmen at bases around the world.

“The foundation of the Air Force does happen here at AFMC,” Brown said.

Bunch offered a long list of colleagues to thank in his departing remarks, saying together they “solved a lot of problems and made the Air Force better.”

“In many cases you have protected me from me. You have allowed me to focus on the mission,” he said.

Bunch was to retire immediately after Monday’s ceremony. He and his wife Caroline will return to native Tennessee where Bunch will become director of Hamblen County Schools.

Wright-Patterson is the largest single-site employer in Ohio, with more than 32,000 military and civilian employees.

Credit: 88th Air Base Wing

Credit: 88th Air Base Wing

According to his Air Force bio, Richardson’s career started in 1983 with his enlistment as an avionics technician at the age of 18.

He earned an electrical engineering degree under the Airmen’s Education and Commissioning program and attended Air Force Officer Training School where he earned his commission as a second lieutenant in September 1989.

His career in acquisition and materiel brought him to Wright-Patterson for the first time in 1997 where he supported the F-15 System Program Office, the command said. He also had leadership roles in the Aeronautical Systems Center and Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson, including as AFLCMC vice commander.

Monday’s change of command was the third time Richardson followed Bunch into a “job of importance,” the new commander said.

Richardson hails from Tucson, Ariz. He and his wife, Dede, have four children and six grandchildren.

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