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Pankau retires with 29 years of service

Col. Michael Pankau speaks during his retirement ceremony Jan. 4, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/Released)

Col. Michael Pankau speaks during his retirement ceremony Jan. 4, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/Released)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (Rosecrans Air National Guard Base) -- Flood waters were rising and more than 100 Airmen were lined up throwing sandbags to reinforce the levee. Among them was the 139th Airlift Wing commander, Col. Michael A. Pankau who retired on Jan. 4, 2014.

Pankau joined the Missouri Air National Guard and received his commission at the 139th Airlift Wing in 1985. Since then he has served in three wars, a half dozen lesser conflicts that spanned five continents, and spent three decades protecting the community during natural disasters.

In 1993, as a member of the Wing, Pankau fought flood waters as they swallowed Rosecrans Memorial Airport. In 2011, he led the flood fight as the Wing's commander.

"The 2011 flood response was one of the biggest challenges of my career," said Pankau.

St. Joseph Mayor Bill Falkner remembers the flood fighting efforts that Pankau led, pointing out that while he may be the 139th commander, it didn't stop him from lining up and filling sand bags with the rest of the troops.

U.S. Congressman Sam Graves, Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, Buchanan County Commissioner Ron Hook, Falkner, a host of other dignitaries and more than 1,200 Airmen attended his retirement ceremony during January's unit assemble training.

Pankau, a native of St. Joseph, served at the 139th for 29 years and 6 months.

"Pankau lived the Air Force values every day of his service. Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all he does," Danner said.

Pankau sums up his success by saying "I had a good team, focused on the mission and I let them do their job."