165th Change of Command

The 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard has a new leader. Colonel Hank Smart was promoted to wing commander of the 165th this afternoon. Colonel Smart is taking the command over from outgoing commander, Colonel Thomas Moore.

The Georgia Air National Guard honored Commander Moore with the Legion of Merit award for his service. They also presented the 165th with the Outstanding Air Force Unit Award.

New Wing Commander Colonel Hank Smart said he knows the 165th will continue its tradition of excellence.

"I'm excited about it," said Colonel Smart. "The talent, the depth and the experience in the wing is like never before. The wing has basically been on a war footing for three years. They know their job. They know it inside and out and everything that can be thrown at us, I think we can handle with professionalism and execute in a full military manner."

Three other senior operations officers are also changing command. Colonel Jesse Simmons will take over as wing vice commander, for Colonel Smart. He'll be replaced by Lt. Colonel Keith Edenfield. Lt. Colonel Steve Melton becomes the news director of operations for the Georgia Air National Guard. Lt. Colonel Jim Grandy will fill his former position as commander of the 158th Airlift Squadron, the flying section of the 165th. Lt. Colonel Rainer "Speedy" Gomez will become the new chief of staff of the 165th. Lt. Colonel Don Pallone will step into his place as the new 165th OSF commander.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com