KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico — Lt. Col. Christian “Pancho” Lichter has pinned on his “full-bird” wings after being promoted to colonel on April 1.

Col. Lichter works as director of staff at the 58 Special Operations Wing, directing 56 officer, enlisted and civilian staff on behalf of Wing Commander Col. Justin Hoffman. The Wing, one of Air Education and Training Command’s most complex wings, is comprised of six geographically-separated units with 2,400 airmen and 67 aircraft.

Christian Lichter

Lichter grew up on Maple Hill in Auburn. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1994, serving as an F-15E avionics technician at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and was commissioned through officer training school in 1997 and was “winged” as a pilot in 1998, initiating his distinguished flying career mostly within Air Force Special Operations Command and, more recently, Air Education and Training Command.

Lichter’s parents, Dr. Horacio and Joan Lichter, both deceased, were well known in the Lewiston-Auburn area. His father was a pediatrician for more than 30 years at St. Mary’s Hospital and his mother had a ballet studio in Lewiston.

In his nearly 26-year career, Lichter has logged nearly 5,000 total flight hours across several continents on different aircraft, with more than 1,000 hours flown in combat. He has been the recipient of numerous decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with Valor and seven oak leaf clusters, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal and the Air Force Combat Action Medal. He has participated in 11 named U.S. operations and is also a presidential advance agent.

Lichter separated from the Air Force in 2007 for more than three years, continuing to fly special missions overseas as a contract pilot in the Philippines, as well as providing flight instruction to Lebanese and Iraqi Air Force senior leaders.

A high school graduate of Edward Little High School, his formal education began with a bachelor of science in geology in 1993 from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. He completed the Squadron Officer School in 2004, the Flight Safety Officer School in 2005, and earned his Master of Aeronautical Science-human factors, with distinction from Embry Riddle in 2005. Additionally, in 2010, he completed Air Command and Staff College; in 2015, the Joint Professional Military Education, Phase II; and finally, Air War College in 2016.

Before Lichter took on the director of staff position at the 58 SOW, he was a deputy commander at the 58th Operations Group and came to Kirtland after serving as the chief of the Joint Reconnaissance Center at USCENTCOM, MacDill AFB. In his career, Lichter has been assigned to 11 locations, including as a MC-130H Combat Talon II pilot student at Kirtland over 20 years ago.

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