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New Chief of Staff Begins at NGAUS

02-21-24 WR Fesler WEBSITE
02-21-24 WR Fesler WEBSITE
Washington Report

A retired Tennessee Air National Guard officer who knows both NGAUS and Washington, D.C., is now the association's chief of staff.

Retired Lt. Col. John "Ike" Fesler succeeded retired Mississippi Air Guard Col. Paul Drake IV this week.

"It’s an organization near and dear to my heart and I can't think of a better opportunity to use my passion for Guardsmen and their families than as the chief of staff for the nation's largest and oldest military advocacy group," Fesler said.

"John brings a wealth of legislative and public affairs experience and some valuable contacts in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill," said retired Maj. Gen. Francis M. McGinn, the NGAUS president.

"He also has a passion for NGAUS, as evidenced by almost 10 years on the association board and numerous NGAUS committee assignments," McGinn continued.

"Plus, John brings an Air Guard perspective that will help me as a retired Army National Guard officer. He will be a great asset to me and, most importantly, our association."

Fesler now oversees the association's staff at the National Guard Memorial, the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C. He will also play an integral role in planning and executing the 146th NGAUS General Conference & Exhibition in Detroit.

"I want to foster cross collaboration and unrivaled teamwork, because everyone who works at NGAUS does so with the same mission in mind – taking care of our Guard family," he said.

"Leading with transparency and integrity are paramount to my strategic vision for the role," Fesler added.

"What I've used as a motto for years is I never ask anyone to do anything I would not be willing to do. So, if I asked you to do it, it's because I'm willing to do it as well."

Fesler served in the military for 27 years, including 20 in the Tennessee Air Guard. He held numerous roles in the Guard, including director of staff in the White House Military Office and traveling/senior executive officer to the director of the Air Guard.

He began his military career in the Navy, serving seven years as a cryptologic technician and intelligence center supervisor.

During his time in the Air Guard, Fesler served as a Senate liaison officer for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, as well as a White House social aide, the first Air Guard officer to hold that title. He also served as an officer training school instructor, commissioning more than 165 second lieutenants into the Air Guard.

Fesler is a familiar face to the association. He was first elected to the NGAUS board of directors in 2014 as the company-grade Air representative and later served as the Area III Air representative from 2018 to 2023.

Fesler was appointed to the NGAUS Awards Committee in 2018, becoming the chairman of the committee in 2019. He was also a member of the NGAUS General Conference Committee.

Fesler said the association’s work to increase benefits for Guardsmen and modernize America’s citizen airmen and soldiers for a 21st century fight encouraged him to join the NGAUS board.

"It's an organization I know goes the extra mile to secure, through legislative initiatives, those benefits and I wanted to be able to contribute my small piece of that," he said.

Fesler received his master’s degree in public service administration from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

— By Donald Lambert