Col. Charles "Spider" Dorsey Retires

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jeffrey Brown
  • 174th Fighter Wing
On 2 August 2012, Col Charles ("Spider") Dorsey, 174th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, retired from military service during a formal ceremony held at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York.
Col Dorsey is a Command Pilot and Senior Maintenance Officer with over 29 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and New York Air National Guard. He has flown missions in support of Operations VIGILANT WARRIOR, SOUTHERN WATCH, NOBLE EAGLE, ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.

He grew up in the farmlands of Iowa and attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in History.

After completing undergraduate pilot training at Williams AFB, Arizona, he was initially assigned to serve as a T-38 Instructor Pilot. He was promoted to Chief of the T-38 Student Branch before being assigned to Eielson AFB, Fairbanks, Alaska in 1989 to fly the A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately known as the Hog.

Col Dorsey quickly learned the ropes of being a combat A-10 operator and upgraded to 4-ship flight lead in less than a year. When the 18th Fighter Squadron converted to the F-16 "Viper", Col Dorsey was tasked to be one of the initial cadre to standup the squadron level flying safety program and he became the Squadron Safety Officer.

His next assignment was to the first ever air-land composite wing consisting of the F-16, A-10 and C-130 at Pope AFB, North Carolina. He became the Chief of Flight Safety and helped the 23d Wing achieve the HQ ACC Flight Safety Award for FY '93.

In 1994, Col Dorsey was reassigned to the 74th Fighter Squadron at Pope, and worked his way up from Flight Commander to Assistant Operations Officer. One of the highlights of his time in the 74th was when, while serving as the project officer for Red Flag 95-1, the unit was recalled home and immediately deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Vigilant Warrior. Col Dorsey led multiple 40-ship formations tasked to stop a division of Iraqi Republican Guard threatening the Kuwaiti border.

From 1996 to 1999, Col Dorsey served in the Combat Plans Division of U.S. Central Command Air Forces Headquarters at Shaw AFB, South Carolina. He became the 9th Air Force expert in combat airpower planning as he took on the duties as Chief of Air Support Plans, Chief of Master Attack Plans and Chief of the 9AF/CC Action Group. As part of his duties, Col Dorsey led his planning team through 74 (18+ hour) straight days of building Operation Desert Thunder/Desert Fox.

In 1999, Col Dorsey joined the 174th Fighter Wing as a F-16 pilot and Chief of Safety, which he described as "the best decision I ever made." He was quickly promoted to Logistics/Maintenance Group Commander, during which time the unit deployed on multiple occassions to the Middle East.

From May through September 2008, Col Dorsey deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq and served as Deputy Commander of the 332d Expeditionary Operations Group. He concluded his career by serving as Vice Wing Commander of the 174th Fighter Wing, where he oversaw the Wing's conversation from the F-16 to the first Air National Guard unit to fly the MQ-9 Reaper.

During his retirement ceremony, Col Dorsey talked about how he always asked three questions prior to conducting any mission: 1) is it worthwhile, 2) is it legal and 3) is there a backup plan. "Regardless of your position, you should ask these same three questions for anything you do in life," he said. He concluded by telling those in attendance "you are part of the greatest Air Force that has ever been assembled. Continue to take the fight to our ememies."