Col. Cynthia L. Smith is the Commander, 186th Air Refueling Wing, Key Field Air National Guard Base, Meridian, Mississippi. The 186th Air Refueling Wing provides over 1,100 personnel and eight KC-135R aircraft to Air Mobility Command for worldwide operations. The wing also supports domestic counter-drug and emergency response missions as well as overseas combatant commander requirements with an RC-26B aircraft.  Additional units include the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron which serves as a combat force multiplier to U.S. Army counterparts, the 248th Air Traffic Control Squadron which is capable of providing air traffic control services for commercial, military and general aviation aircraft operating out of any airfield worldwide, and the 186th Air Operations Group which provides First Air Force staff augmentation to support the homeland defense mission and deliver defense support to civil authorities during domestic events.


Col. Smith graduated from Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi, in 1997, earning a Bachelor of Commercial Aviation with concentrations in both Flight Operations and Aviation Management. After joining the Mississippi Air National Guard in 1998, she was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science in 1999. She graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base (AFB) where she received the Commander’s Trophy. A traditional Guard pilot, Col. Smith has attended Pilot Qualification training for the KC-135R, C-12 and C-27J aircraft. She has served multiple tours overseas, performing both aircrew and staff duties, in support of contingency operations including Joint/Deliberate Forge, Deny Flight, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. In 2010, she served in support of a third flying mission at Key Field, the MC-12W, through the Project Liberty program.


Prior to her current position, Col. Smith was the A-3 Director of Operations, Mississippi Air National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters (JFH), Jackson, Mississippi.



1997     Bachelor of Commercial Aviation, Delta State University, Cleveland, Miss.

1998     Academy of Military Science, McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base (ANGB), Knoxville, Tenn.

1999     Distinguished graduate, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Vance AFB, Okla.

2000     KC-135R Initial Qualification, Altus AFB, Okla.

2004     KC-135R Aircraft Commander Upgrade, Altus AFB, Okla.

2008     Squadron Officer School, by correspondence

2010     C-12 Pilot Qualification Training, Dothan, Ala.

2010     MC-12W Qualification Training, Wichita, Kan.

2010     C-12 Instructor Training, Dothan, Ala.

2011     Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence

2011     C-27J Initial Qualification Training, Robins AFB, Ga.

2013     KC-135R Requalification Training, Altus AFB, Okla.

2017     Air War College, by correspondence

2019     KC-135R Instructor Training, Altus AFB, Okla.



  1. August 1999 – August 2000, Student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Vance AFB, Okla.
  2. August 2000 – January 2010, KC-135R Pilot, 153rd Air Refueling Squadron (ARS), Key Field ANGB, Meridian, Miss.
  3. January 2010 – October 2011, C-12 Instructor Pilot, 153rd ARS, Key Field ANGB, Meridian, Miss.
  4. October 2011 – October 2013, C-27J Pilot, 153rd Airlift Squadron, Key Field ANGB, Meridian, Miss
  5. October 2013 – March 2014, KC-135R Pilot, 153rd ARS, Key Field ANGB, Meridian, Miss
  6. March 2014 – December 2014, Flight Commander, 153rd ARS, Key Field ANGB, Meridian, Miss.
  7. December 2014 – March 2018, Commander, 186th Operations Support Squadron, Key Field ANGB, Meridian, Miss.
  8. March 2018 – October 2019, Commander, 153rd ARS, Key Field ANGB, Meridian, Miss.
  9. October 2019 – August 2021, Director of Operations, Mississippi Air National Guard, JFH, Jackson, Miss.
  10. August 2021 – Present, Wing Commander, 186th Air Refueling Wing, Key Field ANGB, Miss.



Rating:  command pilot

Flight hours:  more than 3,200, including more than 450 combat and combat support hours

Aircraft flown:  T-37, T-1A, C-12, C-27J and KC-135R



Meritorious Service Medal

Air Medal

Army Commendation Medal

Air Force Achievement Medal

Combat Readiness Medal with four oak leaf clusters

National Defense Service Medal

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device

Mississippi Medal of Efficiency

Mississippi War Medal

Mississippi Service School Medal

Mississippi Longevity Medal with two oak leaf clusters



Second Lieutenant Feb. 26, 1999

First Lieutenant Feb. 26, 2001

Captain Feb. 27, 2003

Major June 11, 2008

Lieutenant Colonel Nov. 18, 2013

Colonel Oct. 1, 2019

(Current as of August 2021)