Travis AFB innovation cell dedicates new lab to Air Force legend: Lt. Gen. John Gonge

  • Published
  • By Nicholas Pilch
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Travis AFB Phoenix Spark innovation cell revealed the name for its new location, April 9, 2021.

The space is being named in honor of retired Lt. Gen. John Gonge.

“The area has been reimagined as the focal point for innovation at Travis and the original operations center layout and map have been preserved to honor this special place in time,” said John Dickerson, 60th Air Mobility Wing Phoenix Spark innovation officer.

Building 241 once served as the 22d Air Force Staff and the Travis Operations Center where Gonge held positions.

“The Travis Operations Center was a place where senior leaders tackled operational and tactical level problems in real time, executing the Military Air Transport Command mission,” said Dickerson.

Gonge, a World War II veteran and Nebraska native, joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and commissioned in 1943 after flight school. Throughout his career, he spent time in a number of different commands, as well as serving as the commander of the 22d Air Force at Travis AFB from 1972 to 1975 when he participated in the planning and coordination to get Prisoners of War home that were released from North Vietnam in 1973.

“As this building takes on new life of inspiring our Airmen to solve difficult problems, the request was made that it be named after a great leader who served in the building's original capacity,” said Dickerson.

The innovation lab was started in 2016 when former Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh III, charged units to empower Airmen to innovate. Phoenix Spark leadership invested into the lab, and over the last five years, led it to it to where it is today.

“Part of this vision for Phoenix Spark would require a completely new facility, designed intentionally to facilitate both collaborative problem-solving with the community and intentional resourcing for Airmen to research solutions,” said Dickerson.

The Gonge Innovation Center is planning to open towards the end of summer 2021. With that, the Phoenix Spark Lab has openings for all Airmen who are looking to accelerate change and innovate new ideas to make processes on Travis AFB and in the Air Force more efficient. For more information call the Phoenix Spark Lab at (707) 424-8920 or visit

To see more photos of Gonge and the returning POWs in 1973, click here.

To read more about Gonge’s career, click here.