The 164th Welcomes a New Vice Wing Commander
By Senior Airman Leon Bussey, 164th Airlift Wing
/ Published June 07, 2018
MEMPHIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Memphis, Tenn --
(June 6, 2018) – Col. Gary D. Smith joins the 164th Airlift Wing as their new vice wing commander June 6 in Memphis, Tenn.
Smith joins the 164th after a three year tour as the 118th Mission Support Group commander in Nashville, Tenn.
Smith, being a native Tennessean, grew up in a small town northwest of Chattanooga, Tenn., where he spent his summers riding tractors and taking care of livestock. He later join Air Force ROTC and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University.
“Graduated in 1989 from both a bachelor of science in aviation management and from ROTC as a distinguish graduate,” said Smith. “From there, that’s where I started my Air Force journey.”
During his time on active duty, Smith was stationed at several different bases and flew several different aircrafts. Smith continued his active duty career until 1999 when he joined the Tennessee Air National Guard.
“I got off active duty and went to the Air National Guard, and I got to join the best Air National Guard in the Union, the Tennessee Air National Guard,” said Smith.
Smith first join the 134th Air Refueling Wing at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Knoxville, Tenn. While with the 134th ARW, Smith held many different positions. He went from being just a line pilot to the chief of safety, then ultimately becoming an instructor pilot. While serving with the 134th ARW, Smith was selected for an assignment with the 18th Air Force as well to later work with the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
“I worked with the chief of the National Guard Bureau on his action group,” said Smith.” After that I was selected to come service at the 118th wing as the Mission Support Group commander.”
During his time as the commander of the 118th MSG, Smith used compassion and his ability to effectively communicate to encourage development and unity amongst his troops.
“Col. Smith is one of the most compassionate commanders I’ve ever worked for,” said Staff Sgt. Lakissy Thomas, Administrative Assistant to the 118th Mission Support Group commander. “He has a way with being able to communicate with all Airmen, officer and enlisted.”
“As servants, we work for the organization, and the organization is made up of people,” said Smith. “We are there to establish, equip, encourage, empower and enlighten in order that they excel.”
Powered with knowledge, training and experience, Smith sets out to motivate and foster a team environment within every organization he is a part of, and these are the traits and abilities he will bring to the 164th AW.
“The details matter. If you got time to do it over, you got time to do it right,” said Smith. “This is the greatest place to work, the organization’s culture is a result of the people, their opinions, their attitudes and their approach. If the place isn’t what you need it to be, then let’s work together to make it what it should be.” (Air National Guard story written by Senior Airman Leon Bussey)