Brig. Gen. Jon K. Kelk targeted the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing for a formal visit, days after his appointment to replace Brig. Gen. James C. Witham, as commander of the California Air National Guard.
At the onset of the visit, senior wing staff members briefed capabilities and operation specifics to Kelk. After which, he visited the Predator Operations Center and the Fighter Training Unit, where he was given an opportunity to control a simulated Predator strike on an enemy target.
Kelk was assigned to the 525th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Bitburg Air Base, Germany, as an F-15 aircraft commander and instructor pilot. Due to his superb airmanship, he was designated as a candidate to attend the Fighter Weapons Instructor Course. After completion, he assumed duties as the squadron weapons officer and chief of Weapons. In 1990, Kelk returned stateside to become the assistant chief of Standardization and Evaluation for the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla.
Kelk transferred to the Missouri ANG, July 1991, initially with the 110th Fighter Squadron as an F-15 line pilot and then as the commander. He was next promoted to commander of the 131st Operations Group, later moving to MANG headquarters in Jefferson City to serve as Director of Operations, A-3 and Chief of Staff. Kelk joined the California ANG in July 2012, as the Assistant Adjutant General. Kelk is an airline pilot in his civilian career.
General Kelk owns two pieces of military history: In January 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, Kelk scored the war’s first aerial engagement victory, by shooting down a MiG-29 over Iraq. For that feat, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Also, in 2006, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for becoming the first U.S. pilot to log 4,000 hours in the F-15 Eagle. A veteran of 296 combat hours, Kelk participated in Iraq no-fly-zone enforcement operations Provide Comfort, Northern Watch and Southern Watch.
When Kelk departed the Missouri ANG, his former director of staff Col. Tim Jones told the 70th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, “He’s very professional, very engaged. It’s California’s gain, our loss.”