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Centerville grad to be acting secretary of the Air Force

Eric Fanning, a graduate of Centerville High School, is expected Friday to assume the post of acting secretary of the U.S. Air Force.

The likely promotion comes less than two months after the Senate confirmed Fanning, 44, as undersecretary of the Air Force. Fanning will replace Michael Donley, who officially leaves Friday as secretary of the Air Force, a post he has held since 2008.

Under federal law, the undersecretary automatically assumes the job of acting secretary until President Barack Obama names a replacement. There was no word Wednesday whether Fanning would be a candidate for secretary of the Air Force.

But Ohio officials and lawmakers quickly hailed the promotion, pointing out the advantage of having a senior Air Force post held by someone who grew up in the Dayton area near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the largest single-site employer in Ohio.

“His experience on Capitol Hill will help him lead the Air Force through unprecedented budget challenges, and his roots in the Miami Valley will provide him with a unique understanding of the importance of Ohio military installations like Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Springfield, and Rickenbacker,’’ said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Rep. Michael Turner, R-Dayton, and chairman of the House subcommittee on Tactical, Air and Land Forces, congratulated Fanning on the promotion, saying he looks “forward to working with him in support of the Air Force and their mission at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

Turner said this development puts “two local high school graduates in the leadership of the Air Force: General Janet Wolfenbarger, who graduated from Beavercreek High School and Acting Secretary Fanning who graduated from Centerville High School. Our community is truly dedicated to serving this nation.”

Wolfenbarger is commander of the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson.

Fanning, who graduated from Centerville High in 1986, is a 1990 graduate of Dartmouth College, has also served as deputy undersecretary of the Navy.

At Centerville High School, a school yearbook said Fanning was a vice president of the math honor society Mu Alpha Theta, in the National Honor Society, and a member of the Muse Machine, an arts education program, said Thomas Henderson, Centerville City School Superintendent Thomas Henderson.

Fanning also played soccer and was a Spanish Club member during his time in high school.

Michael Gessel, a vice president in the Washington of the Dayton Development Coalition, said Fanning’s “connection’’ to the Dayton area “gives him a more intimate perspective on the base and its role in the Dayton region. Secretary Fanning brings to his position broad experience in defense policy with a good dose of Midwestern common sense.’’

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