Quenichet takes command of 123rd Operations Group

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Lt. Col. Matthew E. Quenichet accepted the 123rd Operations Group guidon from Col. David Mounkes, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during a virtual change-of-command ceremony here Aug. 8, becoming the operations group’s newest leader.

During the ceremony, which was broadcast live on the Internet, Mounkes took the stage to praise the performance of Col. Robert Hamm, the outgoing commander of the 123rd Operations Group, who has held the position for more than seven years.

“Thanks to your leadership, the 123rd Operations Group has maintained and even improved on the superb and superior reputation that the Kentucky Air National Guard has at a national level,” Mounkes said. “Your care for your Airmen and commitment to the mission are absolutely laudatory and immaculate. None of this could be what it is without your sacrificial service and amazing leadership. On behalf the 123rd Airlift Wing, thank you.”

After congratulating the outgoing commander, Mounkes welcomed Quenichet into the role.

“You are one of the best and smartest aviators that I have ever flown with,” Mounkes said. “I’ve watched you improve and be met with tremendous success as a squadron commander, and I have nothing but confidence that you’re ready for group-level command. I’m very much looking forward to working with you and continuing to press ahead and adapting to and overcoming the challenges that are ahead of us.”

Quenichet joined the Air Force after graduating from Purdue University in 1998 and completed officer training school at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He attended joint specialized undergraduate navigator training at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, before completing C-130 navigator training at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas.

His first operational assignment was with the 2nd Airlift Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, as a C-130E navigator and instructor. His second active-duty assignment sent him back to Randolph and the 562nd Flying Training Squadron to provide undergraduate navigator training to Air Force and Navy students in the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor aircraft.

Quenichet left active duty in 2007 and joined the 165th Airlift Squadron where he most recently served as squadron commander. As a Guard member, he has filled the roles of navigator scheduler, chief of training, weapons officer and director of operations. His career spans 21 years and includes participation in Operations Joint Forge, Enduring Freedom, Coronet Oak, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel.

As the ceremony came to a close, Quenichet took to the stage to give his first remarks as the new commander of the 123rd Operations Group.

“To the men and women of the 165th Airlift Squadron, serving with you and for you over the last 13 years has been an absolute honor,” Quenichet said. “I didn’t know the true caliber of this unit when I left active duty, but I couldn’t have been luckier with where I ended up. You’re truly the best airlift unit I’ve been a part of or interacted with. That’s not just my biased opinion. You have a renowned reputation, and it’s well-deserved.

“To the 123rd Operations Group, I look forward to our future challenges together,” Quenichet continued. “I’ll continue to serve you with integrity and focus and will do everything in my power to ensure we continue to deserve our world-class reputation. Thank you.”