A New Commander Takes Over the 165th Operations Group

The men and women of the 165th have been through one of the most unique times in Air National Guard history. They have been called into active duty to serve their country during a time of war. Lieutenant Colonel Hank Smart has been with them every step of the way. But now LTC Smart is moving forward, into a new position as Vice Wing Commander for the 165th unit, but says some of his biggest accomplishments have been made with the operations group. "My men and women have flown in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa, and accumulated more than 9000 accident free hours in a combat to combat environment. Watching my men and women perform under stressful situations is my biggest accomplishment," exclaimed Outgoing Commander, LTC Hank Smart.

Taking the reigns as the new commander was Lieutenant Colonel Jesse Simmons.He's already planning for the future of this Operations group. One of his biggest challenges will be making sure the members are equipped and ready for overseas deployments. "We'll make sure they have the appropriate gear to keep them safe, the appropriate training, and the appropriate information to carry on a mission," said new Commander, LTC Jesse Simmons.

He's planning to take care of not only the Operations group, but their loved ones as well. "I want to keep the focus on the war effort, and the people that are supporting it. Especially the families, making sure they're being taken care of appropriately," said LTC Simmons.

With another deployment set for next Wednesday, both Lieutenant Colonels say the group will be ready to serve their country.

Lieutenant Colonels Smart and Simmons were also awarded the Meritorious Service medal for their exemplary work with the 165th.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com