Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs
Brigadier General Torrence Saxe is the Commander, Alaska Air National Guard. As commander,
he ensures the training and equipping of over 2,300 Alaska citizen airmen in two
flying wings. He provides airlift, rescue, aerial refueling, air control, and
space warning and surveillance capabilities in support of state and federal missions
Brigadier General Saxe entered the Air Force in 1995 as a distinguished graduate of the Officer
Training School, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. His first assignment was at Malmstrom AFB,
Montana, where he served as both Flight Commander and instructor for the Intercontinental
Ballistic Missile mission. Brigadier General Saxe is a former detachment commander at Royal
Air Force Feltwell, United Kingdom, and executive officer for the 21st Operations
Group, Peterson AFB, Colorado. He has also served on the staff at Headquarters
Air Force Space Command as a Space and Missile Assignment Officer. Brigadier General Saxe joined
the Alaska Air National Guard in 2004, serving in various positions at Clear Air
Force Station, Alaska, to include assignments as commander of the 213th Space
Warning Squadron and the 13th Space Warning Squadron. As the 13th Space Warning
Squadron commander he also served as the Federal Installation Commander. His next
assignment was as the 176th Maintenance Group Commander, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson,
Prior to his current position, Brigadier General Saxe was the commander of the 168th Wing,
Eielson AFB, Alaska.
(Current as of April 2019)
Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs
Colonel (ret) Craig Christenson is currently the Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and attended Washington and Jefferson College on an Army ROTC scholarship. He was commissioned in 1985, and served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1985-1989 while on an educational delay to attend the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine. He entered active duty in the U.S. Army in 1989. In 1993, he left active duty and entered the Army Reserves to practice podiatry in Altoona, Pennsylvania. In 1994, he entered the United States Air Force, serving until his retirement in 2012. He is board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. Following retirement, Colonel Christenson was appointed as Deputy Commissioner, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services where he served until 2014. In 2019, he ran as a candidate for Alaska State House District 13 in Eagle River. His wife, Sandy is a teacher and they have two children, Lane and Katie.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS:
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION:
NO BIOGRAPHY INFORMATION
(Current as of June 2019)
Alaska Army National Guard
Alaska Air National Guard
Colonel Scott Howard is assigned as the Director of Staff ‐ Air, Joint Forces Headquarters ‐ Alaska, Alaska National Guard. He is the principal advisor to the Alaska Air National Guard commander, and principle staff leader providing guidance and direction to two flying wings with over 2,000 Alaska National Guard members who support airlift, rescue, aerial refueling, air defense, and space warning and surveillance missions as well as deploy within the state and worldwide in support of humanitarian emergencies and national defense. He manages recruiting operations and coordinates with headquarters directors and chiefs of special staff across all functional specialties. He supervises implementation of command decisions, plans and policies for the Alaska Air National Guard military and civilian staff, and directly manages the headquarters' budget.
Colonel Howard enlisted in the Air Force in 1991 as an Airborne Warning and Control Systems Journeyman. He received his commission in 1998 as a graduate of Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He joined the Alaska Air National Guard in May of 2003. Prior to his current appointment as Director of Staff, he served as Commander, 168th Mission support Group, Eielson AFB, Alaska. Colonel Howard has held numerous assignments to include Commander, 176th Air Defense Squadron, flying, operations and support functions.
State Awards and Decorations:
Effective Dates of Promotions:
Office of Veterans Affairs
In 2009, Mr. Verdie Bowen was appointed as Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs by former Governor Sarah Palin. As Director, Mr. Bowen is responsible for the development and establishment of polices and strategic plans that directly affect over 230,000 Alaskans including all Alaska veterans, active duty, reserve components, dependents, and survivors living in the states 348 communities. Recently, Mr. Bowen served nationally as the 70th President of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs. In this position he provided key testimony for five major pieces of legislation; the most critical being the Veterans Affairs (VA) Modernization Act of 2017 and the VA Mission Act of 2018.
Since his appointment, Mr. Bowen has traveled to over 265 communities in Alaska. He has provided critical testimony to the US Senate on rural healthcare and helped as a member of the 13th working group to facilitate the establishment of a memorandum of agreement between Alaska Tribal Health Agencies and the Federal VA allowing veterans to receive healthcare in villages all across Alaska. Mr. Bowen served on the Department of Veterans Affairs Rural Health Advisory committee from 2013 to 2017. He has also provided guidance and testimony to the Alaska State Legislator on several local veteran’s issues. To date he has provided guidance on the following passed legislation:
Currently he is working on the development of a new state veteran's cemetery in Fairbanks and the establishment of a DoD/VA/Alaskan software platform assisting veterans with earned benefits.
As a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Bowen began his military career in 1981 serving in several units as a Communications Specialist. His major assignments included the following units:
During his service, he supported the research and development of long-range communications pertaining to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). He managed the deployment of the Defense Mediterranean Improvement Satellite Program. He installed the first Alaskan bandwidth management network. Finally, he designed and installed UN and NATO telephone systems connecting commercial air traffic control towers in the old Czech Republic which allowed commercial air traffic back into this theater of operations.
Mr. Bowen holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems from Bellevue University in Nebraska. He is married to Catherine Bowen and they have four sons and four grandchildren.
(Current as of December 2018)
Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management
Mr. Michael "Mike" Sutton was appointed as acting director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) within the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on December 11, 2017. He was appointed Deputy Director on June 5, 2015.
Mr. Sutton started his career with the State of Alaska in November of 2005. Mike was the Exercise Program manager in the DHS&EM Preparedness Branch where he planned, coordinated, executed and evaluated the largest homeland security exercise in Alaska's history - Alaska Shield 07.
Following a highly successful exercise and after more than 28 years of public service, Mr. Sutton ventured into the private sector and started his own business. As president of Alaska's leading veteran-owned emergency management consulting firm, he won contracts for developing an Emergency Operations Plan for the National Science Foundation's Antarctic outpost at McMurdo Station, writing the Alaska Catastrophic Response Plan for FEMA Region X, creating the first Regional Tribal Response Plan for FEMA, and updating emergency operations plans for dozens of Alaska's borough's and communities.
Mr. Sutton retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2005 after 25 years of service with over 2,400 hours in the F-4E and RC-135 aircraft.
Mr. Sutton holds a Bachelors of Business Administration Degree from Texas A&M University graduating in 1978, and completed post-graduate work in Leadership, Management, and Cultural Diversity. Mr. Sutton is a Distinguished Graduate of Squadron Officer's School, completed Air Command and Staff College, and is a graduate of Armed Forces Staff College.
Mike is an avid outdoorsman and can be found on most weekends with his wife Alisha on one of Alaska's many hiking trails or on their boat out in Prince William Sound. They have 3 grown children and live in Anchorage, Alaska.
(Current as of April 2015)
Alaska Military Youth Academy
Mr. David "Mac" McPhetres was appointed as the director of the Alaska Military Youth Academy on May 6, 2019. Mr. McPhetres retired from the U.S. Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard in May 2019 in the grade of Colonel after 31 years of service. He most recently served as the Commander, 168th Maintenance Group, Eielson AFB, Alaska where his responsibilities included all actions necessary to organize, administer, recruit, instruct and train new and seasoned airmen for their State and Federal mission. Prior to his appointment as the 168th Maintenance Group Commander, he served as Director of Staff, the Air Operations Officer and deputy Joint Operations Officer in the Alaska Joint Forces Headquarters.
Mr. McPhetres was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Program at Washington State University in 1988 where he received his commission and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology. After Undergraduate Pilot Training, he gained experience in the C-21A, C-130E, and C-130H1 prior to joining the Alaska Air National Guard's 144th Airlift Squadron in 1998. He has more than 4400 flying hours including over 140 combat hours in USAF Aircraft as Pilot, Instructor, and Evaluator. Mac served as mission commander and crew on operational deployments including Coronet Oak, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Northern Watch, Joint Forge, and Operation Enduring Freedom.
In conjunction with his military career, Mr. McPhetres was a full time flight crew member with Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Westchester, NY from 1999-2009. He has over 4000 hours flying the Boeing 747-400 freighter. He also served during natural disasters including volcanic eruptions in New Guinea in 1997 and Hurricanes in Honduras in 1998. In 2009, Mr. McPhetres transferred to the Joint Staff Operations section of the State headquarters where he provided command and control of National Guard forces executing homeland defense, defense support of civilian authorities and domestic emergency missions within the State of Alaska.
Mr. McPhetres continued his professional development through completion of professional military education courses which focused on leadership, command, core values, strategy, planning, and mentorship. He is an avid outdoorsman with a passion for Nordic skiing. He was a volunteer coach for the Eagle River Special Olympics cross-country athletes in 2014 and 2015, and also coached Masters skiers in the Alaska Nordic Racing adult program before transferring to Eielson AFB.
Alaska State Defense Force
Colonel (AK) John C. James is the Commander of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF).
His previous assignments include Director of Operations, 15 December 2011 to 6
August 2016 and Deputy of Operations from 1 April 2011 through 15 December 2011.
Past assignments have taken Colonel (AK) James and his family across the globe during
both peace and war from Rifleman to Operations Director. He is a 1991 graduate
of the Officers Candidate School, FT Benning GA. and a career Infantry officer.
He also attended Troy State University earning an associate's degree.
As an enlisted Soldier, Colonel (AK) James served with the 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry
with the 9th IN DIV at Fort Lewis. Following this assignment, he was assigned
as a Squad Leader in the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry with the 25th IN (Light)
at Schofield BKS, HI. In 1986, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion 507th Parachute
Infantry Regiment, the United States Army Airborne School as a basic airborne
instructor. There he attended both the Jumpmaster School and Pathfinder School.
In 1989 as a Sergeant First Class Colonel (AK) James was assigned to 4th Battalion,
36th Infantry as a Drill Sergeant. In 1991, he attended Officer Candidate School
and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry. He James was then assigned
to 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, 6th IN (Light) at FT. Richardson, AK. There he
led a Rifle Platoon, was a Company Executive Officer and Battalion Logistics Officer.
Colonel (AK) James returned to the Infantry School to attend the Infantry Officer
Advance Course. From 1995-1997 he served Company Commander of Echo Company, 1st
Battalion, 50th Infantry with the 1st Infantry Training Brigade. Following this
Company Command, he was assigned a second company command which was Bravo Company,
1st Battalion, 5th Armor Brigade at Ft Carson, CO. until 1998.
From December 1998 to May 2005, Colonel (AK) James served in Alaska training and advising
the Alaska Army National Guard. In June of 2005, he deployed to Combined Forces
Command - Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan and was assigned as a Battle Major
in the Combined Joint Operations Center, was the Counter Improvised Explosive
Devise SME, and the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Officer for the Combined Joint
Operations Area planner.
After 12 months in Afghanistan, Colonel (AK) James redeployed to Alaska in 2006 and
then retired from active service. He was then hired by the United States Army
Alaska (USARAK) Director of Operations as a Mobilizations Officer.
From 2008 - 2009 he then returned to Afghanistan to train and equip an Afghan
National Army Infantry Battalion and advise the Battalion Commander. From 2009
through October 2012, Colonel (AK) James returned to USARAK and was re-hired as an
Colonel (AK) James joined the ASDF in May 2011 and served as the Deputy Operations
Officer, Operations Director, and currently as the Commander of the Alaska State
(Current as of April 2018)
Administrative Services Division
Jacqelli Ziegenfuss was appointed as the Administrative Services Director of the Division of Administrative Services (DAS) for the Alaska Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs on June 17, 2019. Ms. Ziegenfuss began her career with the State of Alaska in November of 1999 as a payroll clerk. Over the past 20 years she has worked in a variety of capacities focused in the areas of budget, accounting, procurement, personnel, and federal compliance.
Prior to this appointment, Jacqelli worked as the Administrative Operations Manager for the Department of Labor, Division of Employment and Training Services. She previously worked for the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Senior and Disabilities Services as an Administrative Operations Manager and the Department of Commerce, Division of Insurance as Deputy Director.
Jacqelli enjoys running, hiking, camping, and spending time with her family. She lives in Juneau with her husband and three children.
(Current as of July 2019)
Army Guard Road,
JBER, AK 99505