Smith Takes Command of the 186th Air Refueling Wing

  • Published
  • By Capt. Sabrina Dalton
  • 186th Air Refueling Wing

The 186th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) welcomed a new commander in a change of command ceremony held Aug. 7, 2021, at Key Field Air National Guard Base, Meridian, Mississippi.

Col. Cynthia L. Smith, who is the 21st commander, replaced Col. Edward H. Evans, who served as the 186th ARW commander since April 2017.

“It is an honor to serve as the commander of this outstanding Wing,” said Smith.  “This achievement in my career wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family, senior military leadership, and the men and women who proudly serve here. The 186th Air Refueling Wing has such rich history, and an outstanding record of dedicated service to the local community, the state of Mississippi, and to this country.

Smith is a KC-135R aircraft pilot with more than 3,200 flight hours, including more than 450 combat/ combat support hours. In 2014, she became the 186th Operational Support Squadron commander. And in 2018, she assumed command of the 153rd Air Refueling Squadron. Smith has served on multiple tours overseas in support of operations Joint/ Deliberate Forge, Deny Flight, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom’s Sentinel.  Prior to taking command of the 186th ARW, Smith served as the Director of Operations, Mississippi Air National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters, Jackson, Mississippi.

Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles, Adjutant General of Mississippi, was the guest speaker of the event, and Maj. Gen. Billy M. Nabors, commander of the Mississippi Air National Guard, was the presiding official. The ceremony included the time-honored tradition of the guidon/flag exchange, symbolizing the transfer of the mantle of leadership.

“I look forward to serving the members of this wing to the best of my ability while ensuring we remain mission ready to better serve the Mississippi Air National Guard,” Smith said.

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 at Key Field include the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron, the 248th Air Traffic Control Squadron, and the 186th Air Operations Group.