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123rd Maintenance Group welcomes new commander

Col. Ashley Groves (center), assumes command of the 123rd Maintenance Group as he accepts the unit’s guidon from Col. David Mounkes (left), commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Groves is replacing Col. Ken Dale, who is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ashley Groves (center), assumes command of the 123rd Maintenance Group as he accepts the unit’s guidon from Col. David Mounkes (left), commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Groves is replacing Col. Ken Dale, who is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ashley Groves, incoming commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, addresses the crowd during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Groves is replacing Col. Ken Dale, who is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ashley Groves, incoming commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, addresses the crowd during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Groves is replacing Col. Ken Dale, who is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale receives his final salute as commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale receives his final salute as commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With hundreds of friends, family and fellow Airmen in the audience, Col. Ashley E. Groves assumed command of the 123rd Maintenance Group at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here Dec. 1.

“I’m extremely happy to be back in aircraft maintenance, back where I started my career many moons ago,” Groves told the audience.

Groves enlisted in the active-duty Air Force in 1997 and spent his first assignment at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, as a KC-135 aircraft hydraulic specialist and crew chief. In January 2000, he graduated from Officer Training School as an aircraft maintenance officer and was assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. While stationed there, Groves deployed several times in support of Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom.

He transferred to the Kentucky National Guard in 2004, first serving in the 123rd Maintenance Group and then the 123rd Contingency Response Group, the latter as director of Operations for the 123rd Global Mobility Squadron.

Col. David Mounkes, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, presided over the change-of-command ceremony, formally passing the unit guidon to Groves.

“He is one of the finest officers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” Mounkes said, speaking to the Airmen of the 123rd Maintenance Group. “Support him, mold him and mentor him. I am absolutely convinced the critically important work that you all do every day will continue at sustained levels of excellence ¬— it’s just what you do. You’re getting a commander that will be there for you through thick and thin, and you better believe he’s going to help you get the mission accomplished.”

Upon addressing the Airmen in the maintenance group, Groves said, “This unit holds a very special place in my heart, and after moving around for several years, there is no other place I would rather be in my career than right here, right now.”