Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed a member of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to implement and coordinate the COVID-19 vaccine distribution program in Arkansas.

As program manager for the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment, Col. Robert Ator will serve as project manager for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. He will manage the logistics related to vaccine distribution and serve as liaison to other state agencies to assist with sharing information and data collection.

Col. Ator, a retired Air Force Wing Commander, serves as the director of Military Affairs in the Arkansas Department of Commerce. His military logistics and supply-chain experience uniquely equip him for this task, Gov. Hutchinson said Tuesday in announcing the appointment.

“Col. Ator is the right person for this urgent mission,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “As wing commander, he oversaw more than a thousand airmen along with planes and equipment worth more than $2 billion. C-130 cargo planes often are involved in humanitarian missions, and there is no more pressing humanitarian need than getting this vaccine to Arkansas citizens.”

During Col. Ator’s command, the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base was the largest C-130 wing in the Air National Guard. They provided aircrew combat airlift training for the US military services and foreign allies. The wing also prepared airmen for combat deployment and for state duty following disasters or during domestic emergencies, such as the current pandemic.

Col. Ator and his wife, Michelle, live in Little Rock. Their son is a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and their daughter is a freshman at the University of Colorado.

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