Flying Jennies get new Commander

Flying Jennies get new Commander
Lt. Col Stuart Rubio becomes the Air Force Reserve 815th Airlift Squadron Commander. (Photo Source: WLOX News)

KEESLER AFB, BILOXI (WLOX) - It's a military tradition: Passing the flag from one commander to the next in a change of command ceremony.

The Air Force Reserve's 815th Airlift Squadron, known as the "Flying Jennies", now has a new leader. After serving just more than a year, Lt. Col Shannon Hailes is passing the torch to Lt. Col Stuart Rubio.

"When I took over as the commander of the 815th, we were closing, they were going to move all our iron all the aircraft to different locations," said Hailes.

But, they fought to keep the squadron at Keesler and now the challenge is getting them back to operating capacity.

"When we're fully capable, this mission is a combat ready airlift and air drop squadron we go off to the desert we do airlifts for troops. We do airdrop for parachutes and paratroopers and we take beans and bullets to where they need to do," Hailes said.

Rubio comes to the guard reserve position from an active duty role. He says he has full confidence that with his skill set, he can get the squadron where it needs to be to do that.

"I've got a lot of experience as a C130 pilot, deployments, combat missions, also training side, world wide, it'll be an awesome experience to come in with these folks and put their experience with mine and accomplish the mission," said Rubio.

Members of the squadron say they're pumped to get things rolling.

"We've been anticipating this now for over a year, and we're ready, everybody's excited," said Lt. Col Jeff Ragusa of the Flying Jennies.

Rubio says the first thing he plans on doing in the new position is to set up a timeline for his unit to be mission ready.

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