Groves awarded Legion of Merit for expert leadership of maintenance group

  • Published
  • By Dale Greer
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Col. Ash Groves was awarded the Legion of Merit during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here Dec. 10, recognizing his superior performance as commander of an aircraft maintenance unit.

Groves, who currently serves as director of Air Staff at Joint Force Headquarters, Kentucky National Guard, previously led the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Maintenance Group. During his tenure there from Dec. 1, 2018 to Aug.1, 2022, Groves commanded a group of Airmen who maintained eight C-130 Hercules aircraft that flew over 3,000 sorties, attaining more than 100,000 hours of aircraft availability in support of numerous combat operations, exercises and contingencies all over the world.

His decisive leadership in key engagements with state partners Djibouti and Ecuador, as well as allied engagements within United States European and Pacific commands, led to significant advances in joint aircraft maintenance efforts, sortie production management and allied airlift operations, according to the award citation.

“His flawless execution of multiple international exchanges increased critical interoperability with partners, heightened combat effectiveness with allies and furthered United States strategic objectives,” the citation said.

“Moreover, Colonel Groves’ aggressive alliance with Air National Guard Directorate of Logistics, Air Force Material Command and the Air Force C-130 Systems Program Office solidified significant mitigation of C-130H fleet propeller failure risks and numerous critical structural integrity challenges plaguing over 250 airframes worldwide, increasing lethality for combatant commanders and enabling robust response capability for homeland operations.”

Groves also lead the way for the Kentucky Air National Guard as it converted from legacy C-130 H-model aircraft to new C-130J Super Hercules airframes, requiring critical maintenance qualification training for more than 200 personnel in minimal time to achieve initial operating capability.

Brig. Gen. David Mounkes, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air, praised Groves during the award ceremony, calling him an exceptional officer and natural leader.

“The men and women of the maintenance group absolutely loved Ash because he did such a great job over there,” Mounkes said. “He left that group in a much better place than he found it, which is the main task of any leader. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a well-earned award.”