CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. — Col. Leslie Zyzda-Martin was named the 12th commander of Volk Field Air National Guard Base, following Col. David May who was appointed Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Air April 16.
In her new role, Zyzda-Martin will oversee the largest of the nation’s four Combat Readiness Training Centers (CRTC), and command nearly 500 military and civilian personnel currently assigned to the CTRC, Hardwood Range, the 128th Air Control Squadron and 126th Weather Flight.
The incoming commander said she looked forward to collaborating and shaping the future of Volk Field, and the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
“This will begin with learning from the men and women — Airmen, civilians and contractors — of Volk Field,” she said. “It is obvious they have been crushing the missions. I look forward to putting these professionals together, and defining and codifying the future.”
Prior to being selected as Volk Field’s commander, Zyzda-Martin served as a division chief within the Joint Intelligence Directorate at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., and as the Special Access Program coordinator for the National Guard.
Zyzda-Martin enlisted in the Iowa Air National Guard in 1988, and was commissioned in 1999 before transferring to the 114th Fighter Wing in South Dakota. While a member of the South Dakota Air National Guard she deployed in support of Operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom.
In 2008 Zyzda-Martin served as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance subject matter expert for the U.S. Air Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Over the next 10 years she also served as senior intelligence officer for the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, strategic intelligence planner for the 724th Special Tactics Group, and Air National Guard advisor to the Air Combat Command Intelligence Directorate.
“The one thing that holds true in all these experiences is the need to ensure all Defense Department and coalition assets and mission sets are able to integrate and communicate,” she said. “However easy that is to say, it is very difficult to execute. I hope to bring that perspective to the CRTC and focus on providing an integrated training environment.”
Zyzda-Martin put being Volk Field’s first female commander in perspective.
“I am an Airman first,” she said. “I have learned that my perspective — maybe because I am a female, or it could be because I am not an aviator or in operations — is very different. I strive to ensure my contribution and perspective leads to a better plan, mission execution and outcome.”
Zyzda-Martin credited mentors, role models and career-long friends who provided her opportunities to excel because they saw a competent Airman and teammate.
“No matter what label we put on our Airmen, they have a job to do, and we, as a team, have a mission,” she said. “As the commander, I aspire to create the environment that allows Airmen to do their job with professionalism, humility and respect.”
The land on which Volk Field rests was purchased in 1888 by Adjutant General Chandler Chapman as a rifle range and camp for National Guard Soldiers. By 1903 the camp expanded to more than 800 acres, and a hardened runway was added in 1935. The Air National Guard established Volk Field as a permanent training site in 1954, and the base now totals more than 2,300 acres.
Today the combination of its extensive 30,000-cubic-mile airspace complex, 7,300-acre offsite air-to-ground weapons range and state-of-the-art Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation system makes Volk Field one of the premier counterland training installations in the nation. Each year Volk Field hosts in excess of 18,000 personnel from more than 200 units, along with various Air National Guard and joint accredited exercises.
Zyzda-Martin will assume command in a Sept. 10 ceremony.