First African American to Serve as Group Commander 189th Air Wing

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Wayne E. Berger:

Lt. Col. Berger was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He graduated from Lincoln High School, in Fort Smith in 1964, and from Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1974. His military service began in June 1965 in the United States Air Force, and his first assignment was Materiel Control Inventory Management Specialist at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

He had advanced to the rank of staff sergeant when he was honorably discharged from the USAF in August 1969. After a break in service, Lt. Col. Berger joined the 188th Tactical Fighter Group, Arkansas Air National Guard in Fort Smith, as a Staff Sergeant. He later received his commission as first lieutenant (USAF) upon graduation from the Academy of Military Science, McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee, in 1981. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in October 1997.

Lt. Col. Berger has served in a variety of military assignments to include equal employment opportunity officer for the 188th Tactical Fighter Group, Arkansas Air National Guard, Fort Smith, State Military Equal Employment Opportunity Officer for the Arkansas Air National Guard, Little Rock Air Force Base, and Executive Officer for 189th Mission Support Squadron, 189th Support Group, and 189th Airlift Wing, all at Little Rock Air Force Base. In 1987, Lt. Col. Berger was assigned as the Commander of the 189th Support Group, Little Rock Air Force Base. Lt. Col. Berger was the first African American to serve as Group Commander in the 189th Air Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard.

As 189th Support Group commander, Lt. Col. Berger was responsible for providing support through the 189th Mission Support Flight, 189th Communications Flight, 189th Services Flight, 189th Security Forces Squadron, and 189th Civil Engineer Squadron for the 189th Airlift Wing and other geographically separated units.

Lt. Col. Berger graduated from the Air Force Squadron Officer School in 1985, Air Command and Staff College (seminar) 1994, and Air War College (seminar) 1999. His military decorations include the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal w/1 device, Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Award w/4 devices, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Air Force Training Ribbon w/1 device. Lt. Col. Berger retired from military service in 2003.

Lt. Col. Berger was active in many community affairs. He volunteered for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and was an alumnus of the Leadership Greater Little Rock, Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Lt. Col. Berger served as the fifty-first President of the National Guard Association of Arkansas 2001-2002.