Col. Lee E. Merkle is the commander of the 349th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base, California. He leads the largest Reserve Associate Wing in the Air Force, which provides combat ready crews and support for the C-17 Globemaster III, C-5 Galaxy, and KC-10 Extender aircraft. The wing also provides expeditionary support to the war fighter in all aspects of air base security and operations, and medical care and patient transportation throughout the world.
Col. Merkle began his U.S. Air Force career as a jet engine mechanic with the 349th Field Maintenance Squadron at Travis AFB in 1986. After earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Operations from San Jose State University, he was commissioned in 1995.
In 1996, he attended Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Reese Air Force Base, Texas. After graduating in 1997, he joined the 312th Airlift Squadron, flying the C-5 A/B/C at Travis Air Force Base. He was activated for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and served as Assistant Chief of Standardization and Evaluation. He flew 23 combat support and combat sorties.
In 2011 he was chosen as the Deputy Commander, 512th Operations Group at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. After being selected and attending Air War College in-residence in 2013-2014, he led the 433rd Operations Group as commander at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. In 2016 Col. Merkle was named Director of Operations, 4th Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, March Air Reserve Base, California.
1993 Bachelor of Science: Aviation Operations, San Jose State University
1995 Officer Training School
1997 Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training
2003 Squadron Officer School (correspondence)
2004 Air Command and Staff College (correspondence)
2006 Air War College (correspondence)
2006 Combat Aircrew Tactics Training Course
2007 Operational Risk Management, Applications and Integration Course
2007 Space Fundamentals Course
2011 Maintenance Course for Operational Commanders
2012 Reserve Component National Security Course, National Defense University
2012 Masters of Military Studies: Strategic Leadership, American Military University
2013 Air War College (in-residence)
2014 Masters of Military Studies: Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
1. August 1986 - December 1993, Jet Engine Mechanic, 349th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base, California
2. December 1993 - June 1995, C-5 Flight Engineer, 301st Airlift Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California
3. June 1995 - September 1995, student, Officer Training School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
4. January 1996 - January 1997, student, Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Reese Air Force Base, Texas
5. January 1997 - December 2004, Instructor/Evaluator pilot, 312th Airlift Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California
6. December 2004 - December 2006, Chief of Training, 349th Operations Support Flight, Travis Air Force Base, California
7. December 2006 - October 2007, C-5 Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 349th Operations Group, Travis Air Force Base, California
8. October 2007 - August 2011, Operations Officer, 709th Airlift Squadron, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
9. August 2011 - June 2013, Deputy Commander, 512th Operations Group, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
10. June 2013 - June 2014, Student, Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
11. June 2014 – Sep 2016, Commander, 433rd Operations Group, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas
12. September 2016 to June 2020, Director of Operations, 4th Air Force, March ARB, California.
13. June 2020 to Present, Commander, 349th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, California.
Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: More than 6,200 military hours
Aircraft flown: T-3A, T-37B, T-1A, C-5A/B/C/M, C-17A
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters Air Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters Air Force Achievement Medal
Combat Readiness Medal with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters Air Force Reserve Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters National Defense Service Medal with bronze star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with bronze star Southwest Asia Service Medal with bronze star Kosovo Campaign Medal with bronze star Afghanistan Campaign Medal with bronze star Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal Humanitarian Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with silver hourglass and five 'M' devices
(Current as of June 2020)