Brigadier General Mark F. Sears is currently the Commander of the New Hampshire Air National Guard. He oversees approximately 1000 personnel primarily assigned to the 157th Air Refueling Wing located on the Pease International Tradeport.
General Sears was born in Dover, NH, and attended high school there. He began his military service in 1970, when he enlisted in the USAF and became a photo lab specialist. General Sears was soon elected to be a navigator candidate in the UNH ROTC program and was awarded a full scholarship. During his tenure at the University of New Hampshire, he served as the ROTC Commander and graduated cum laude as an ROTC Distinguished Graduate, earing a BA in Business Administration.
Following his commissioning in 1976, General Sears attended Undergraduate Navigator Training (UNT) and Navigator Bombardier Training (NBT) at the Mather AFB, CA. He was awarded the Air Training Command Commander’s Trophy graduating number one in his class and received the Lenzi Trophy for best overall simulator performance during Navigator Bombardier Training. Assigned to Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC, in the B-52G, General Sears quickly upgraded to Instructor/Evaluator status and was subsequently selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Reese AFB, TX. He also earned his Master’s Degree in Business Management. After graduating from UPT, he completed Pilot Instructor Training qualifying as a T-37 Instructor Pilot (IP). At his first assignment at Reese AFB, he was selected Outstanding T-37 Instructor Pilot by three consecutive student classes.
General Sears was next assigned to the FB-111A at Pease AFB, NH. There he served as a Flight Commander, Instructor Pilot, Stan-Eval Flight Examiner and Stimulator Branch Chief. During the 509th Bomb Wing Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) in 1985, General Sears and his crew, the most junior crew assigned to fly, met the challenge by achieving the best bomb and short range attack missile scores recorded. Later, he and his crew were recognized as the Strategic Air Command’s Flying Crew of the Month. General Sears also demonstrated the same level of excellence in the local community; active in local church, scouting, and youth hockey organizations.
General Sears opted to leave the active component in 1988, becoming a full-time airline pilot with Delta Air Lines and a Traditional Guardsman with the New Hampshire Air National Guard (NHANG). His leadership positions within the unit include KC-135R Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Operations Support Flight Commander, and State Headquarters Director of Operations. He has over 14,000 flying hours. He was assigned as the Commander, NHANG in September 2003, and oversees Northeast Tanker Task Force and Air Bridge Operations supporting Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM and NOBLE EAGLE. Under his leadership, the 157th Air Refueling Wing has been awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for four of the last six years.