Active-duty colonel takes rein of Reserve Group

  • Published
  • By Capt. Denise Hauser
  • 940th Air Refueling Wing

Col. Jeffrey Downs assumed command of the 940th Operations Group at a ceremony here July 14.

Downs, an active-duty officer, comes from the Pentagon where he supported the chief of staff and secretary of the Air Force in strategic communications. He’s here filling a reserve position to showcase total force integration.

“We live in challenging times,” said Downs. “But it’s the men and women of this unit that will ensure the American public that we will overcome those challenges.”

Col. Stephanie Williams, commander of the 940th Air Refueling Wing, thanked Downs for stepping up to this challenge.

“I’d like to welcome him and his family to the 940th. He has a broad background and deep experience as an Airman,” she said. “Simply put, he has tremendous depth in the mobility business as well as incredible experience on the strategic realm.”

Williams said the 940th OPS group faced many challenges in a constrained environment the last few years, but it’s a tribute to the strength and persistence of the group members that made them able to overcome those challenges and directly reflect the proud heritage of the unit.

Williams also stated that change is happening everywhere in military life.

“Change keeps us relevant, change keeps us sharp, change helps us grow both personally and professionally,” said Williams.

Downs said that nobody can project power the way the U.S. military does and air refueling is a key essential element to that. But, he said, reservists have to maintain readiness.

“We have to continue to provide our senior leaders with options. We cannot fail. Two things will make us successful: practice and dedication,” said Downs. “If we practice the way we fight, we are dedicated to our mission. We will not fail, we will succeed. You are part of the greatest military on the face of this earth and you should be proud of that.”

Williams said Downs is the right leader in the right place at the right time.

“I look forward to watching him lead the group through transition to the finish line,” Williams said.

The assumption of command ceremony is deeply rooted in military tradition and dates back to the reign of King Frederick of Prussia. During this time, organizational flags were developed with color arrangements and symbols unique to each unit. When a new commander was to take over, the flag was given to the individual assuming command as a symbol of holding that command position. This gesture was accomplished in front of the unit so all could see and witness their new leader assuming command. This symbolic tradition has survived throughout military history, and was part of today’s ceremony.