Groves selected top Contingency Response troop in Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Vicky Spesard
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Maj. Ashley Groves of the 123rd Contingency Response Group has been named the National Guard Contingency Response Performer of the Year for 2012.

As director of operations for the 123rd Global Mobility Squadron in Louisville, Ky., Groves is responsible for overseeing every aspect of the group's operations, including preparation for training exercises and mission readiness.

"Ash is recognized in both the Guard and active-duty CRG community as a proven leader with exceptional expertise in his field," said Lt. Col. Dave Mounkes, deputy commander of the 123rd CRG. "He has a proven track record of being an innovator and leader in improving and expanding the CRG mission.

"I have worked with Ash for more than six years," Mounkes continued. "He is a clear choice for this award, and it is phenomenal to see his efforts acknowledged at the national level."

Groves' accomplishments over the past year include his superior performance as CRG operations officer at Eagle Flag, a U.S. Transportation Command exercise that tested the group's ability to establish and operate a Joint Task Force-Port Opening in an austere environment. A JTF-PO is a deployed logistics hub that combines an Air Force aerial port of debarkation with an Army trucking and distribution unit.

The 123rd CRG set new standards of excellence during Eagle Flag, moving a record 465 pallets of cargo in just 72 hours, Mounkes said.

Groves also was hand-picked to lead a multidisciplinary team that conducted airfield surveys at four Tennessee airports on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The surveys, conducted in 1/8th the amount of time normally required, provided FEMA with critical information about the airports' ability to support relief operations after a hurricane.

Groves was equally productive overseas, deploying to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, for four months to serve as the liaison to the U.S. Central Command's Tanker Airlift Control Center director of mobility forces.

During his deployment, Groves "flawlessly enabled" 1,000 C-17 and C-5 missions, Mounkes said, receiving extensive praise from the commander at Kandahar.

Groves' military career began when he enlisted in the Air Force in 1997 as a hydraulics specialist on the KC-135 tanker before being cross-utilization trained as a crew chief.

He attended Officer Training School in 2000 and became an F-15E maintenance officer in 2001.

Three years later, Groves left active duty and joined the 123rd Airlift Wing as a traditional Guardsman, serving in the 123rd Maintenance Squadron, 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 123rd Maintenance Operations Flight.

In 2006, he was selected as the project officer for a detachment that would eventually become the newly created 123rd Contingency Response Group, beginning his career as an Air Guard Technician before re-joining the active-duty ranks as an Active Guard/Reserve officer.

"I was completely surprised by the award," said Groves, who is both Air Assault and Pathfinder qualified. "My focus is always on how to improve what the CRG does and to increase the awareness of our unit's capabilities.

"It is every other member of our unit who works above and beyond what they are asked to do that makes our mission successful.

"As long as we keep moving our mission forward, increasing our group's effectiveness and gaining recognition as a 'go-to' unit, that is recognition enough for me."