Kentucky Air Guard welcomes two new command chiefs
By Maj. Dale Greer, 123d Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 28, 2010
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Air National Guard welcomed its newest command chief master sergeants during dual change-of-responsibility ceremonies held April 17 at Louisville Male High School.
The new state command chief is Chief Master Sgt. James Smith, a 32-year veteran of the Kentucky Air Guard who began his service in the aircrew life-support section in 1978. For the next 11 years, he supported crewmembers of the RF-4C Phantom II aircraft as they few aerial reconnaissance missions for the now-defunct 165th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Upon the Kentucky Air Guard's conversion to its current airlift mission, Chief Smith became NCOIC of the life support section, where he led the shop through its conversion to C-130 aircraft and a rapidly increasing operation tempo.
The new 123rd Airlift Wing command chief is Chief Master Sgt. Curtis Carpenter, who most recently served as plans branch chief for the 123rd Communications Flight here. He began his military career as a radio maintenance technician and tactical air control party member in the active-duty U.S. Air Force. He then joined the Kentucky Air National Guard as a traditional Guardsman, serving in radio maintenance before becoming a full-time airfield management specialist for the 123rd Combat Control Team.
Chief Smith replaces former State Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark Grant, who is retiring after a 30-year career in the military. Chief Grant joined the active-duty Air Force in 1980, where he served as an administrative specialist. He transfered in 1985 to the Kentucky Air Guard, where he has held a variety of posts, including unit training manager, budget technician and base financial manager.
Chief Carpenter replaces former 123rd Airlift Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant Thomas Downs Jr., who passed away in December from complications of pancreatitis. Chief Downs served as a full-time member of the Kentucky Air Guard for almost 32 years and was regarded as a national leader and subject-matter expert in the aerial port community. Before being named as the wing command chief master sergeant, Chief Downs was the wing's air transportation superintendent.