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Montana Air National Guard welcomes new leader

Colonel David Smith (right), Brig Gen Buel Dickson (left) Chief Master Sergeant Amber Westie (center)
Montana Air National Guard C-130
Posted at 10:55 AM, Dec 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-04 17:03:16-05

GREAT FALLS — The Montana Air National Guard conducted a change of command ceremony on Friday, December 1st, where Colonel Trace Thomas relinquished command of the 120th Airlift Wing to Colonel David Smith.

Brigadier General Buel Dickson, Assistant Adjutant General for the Montana Air National Guard, presided over the ceremony passing leadership responsibility of the 120th Airlift Wing from Thomas to Smith.

The MT ANG said in a news release that Colonel Smith went to school in Cascade and wanted to be a pilot since he was young. After high school, he was introduced to an Air National Guard recruiter by a family friend. Smith joined the Montana Air National Guard in 1990 and has seen the 120th Airlift Wing transition through numerous missions and airframes.

Smith addressed the conversion to the C-130J model aircraft that the Wing has been selected as a preferred location to receive.

“Our conversion can seem like a very scary thing for those who are going to have their jobs impacted but let me assure you that if you want to stay at this Wing, we will find a way for you to stay at this Wing,” said Smith. “I’ve talked to Airmen affected in Operations many times and assured them we will find places for people; we do not want to lose members.”

Colonel Thomas has been selected to lead as Chief of Staff of the Montana Air National Guard. In addition, he has been selected for promotion to the rank of Brigadier General in January 2024.