Brig. Gen. Nolan retires after nearly 35 years of service

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur
  • Idaho Air National Guard

After nearly 35 years of service, Brig. Gen. Michael A. Nolan, former Assistant Adjutant General-Air, Idaho Air National Guard, retired at a ceremony at Gowen Field on July 17. As his career comes to an end, Nolan realizes the bond and experiences he shares with others are what is most important to him.

“It’s the people you work with every day that you have a common experience with,” said Nolan. “This shared experience brings you close to each other as a team. It brings out the best in each of us, we come together, and we share together. As I retire, I will now be on the outside of this, but I will still have that shared common experience with all of these great people.”

Nolan was previously the commander of the 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field and was a pilot, flying missions with the F-4E and F-4G Phantom II aircraft and the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

Before he joined the Idaho Air National Guard, Nolan was an F-4G pilot instructor in California and met several Idaho pilots there. He decided to turn down an active duty Air Force pilot bonus in October 1992 and seven days later he moved to Idaho to fly the F-4G assigned to the 190th Fighter Squadron.

“The best decision I ever made was to move here,” said Nolan. “My experience in the Guard has been remarkable and I felt really fortunate to be welcomed, to be given the opportunities I was given, and to be trusted.”

When Idaho’s mission changed in 1996, Nolan transitioned to an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot. Although he flew F-4 missions, the A-10 mission was his passion.

“The Warthog is a phenomenal machine,” said Nolan. “The A-10 mission had much more of an impact on me than my other flying experiences.”

Five years ago, Nolan flew his last A-10 flight as the 124th Fighter Wing commander and was promoted to command the Idaho Air Guard.

Nolan said that one of his greatest leadership moments as the Assistant Adjutant General was being involved in ending the concept of moving the Idaho Air National Guard to Mountain Home Air Force Base and transitioning to the F-15E mission.

“The Strike Eagle at Mountain Home is an awesome mission; it just wasn’t for us as a local, community-based Guard unit,” said Nolan. “Parallel to keeping us in Boise, was the fight to keep and modernize our A-10s.”

To Nolan, his military career was about more than just flying the F-4 and A-10 missions.

“People join the military for various reasons, for me it was that I wanted to fly jets, but then once you’re in the military you realize that you are part of something that is much bigger than yourself,” said Nolan.