Stone assumes command of 123rd Mission Support Group

Story by Staff Sgt. Vicky Spesard, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Lt. Col. Matt Stone (right) receives the guidon of the 123rd Mission Support Group from Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during a change-of-command ceremony held at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 11, 2014. As the group’s newest commander, Stone replaces Col. Jeffrey Peters, who is retiring from military service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Lt. Col. Matt Stone accepted the 123rd Mission Support Group guidon from Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during a change-of-command ceremony here Jan. 11, becoming the group’s newest leader.

Stone has served as deputy commander of the Mission Support Group since 2006 and replaces Col. Jeffrey Peters, who is retiring.

“Lieutenant Colonel Stone has a varied background that matches the diverse responsibilities of the MSG,” Gorter said. “Colonel Jeff Peters has prepared him well, and Matt is poised for success as he assumes command of the largest group of the Kentucky Air National Guard.”

As mission support group commander, Stone will direct the operations of more than 450 Airmen who provide a host of key services to the wing. Those services include base fire protection, security forces, civil engineering, disaster preparedness, communications and information technology.

Stone has served in numerous leadership roles throughout his career, both at home and overseas.

In 2001, he served as the chief of wing plans and installation deployment officer just before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Within a year, he had successfully led the 123rd Airlift Wing through its first mobilizations since the Vietnam War era, conducting site surveys and supporting rotations for alert operations throughout the continental United States while deploying personnel in support of Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.

With little advance notice in 2003, Stone directed the mobilization and deployment of 10 of the unit’s C-130 aircraft to two different locations at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom while simultaneously deploying combat and support Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command personnel to multiple sites around the world.

In the summer of 2006, Stone was selected to serve as the Air National Guard liaison to Arizona and led 54 states and territories in their support of that state’s border patrol operations for two months.

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Lt. Col. Matt Stone receives his first salute as the new commander of the 123rd Mission Support Group during a change-of-command ceremony held at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 11, 2014. Stone replaces Col. Jeffrey Peters, who is retiring from military service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton)

Since 2006, Stone has served as the deputy commander and support officer for the 123rd Mission Support Group. In 2009, during the largest natural disaster Kentucky had seen in decades, he led the 123rd Airlift Wing Emergency Operations Center and deployed over 300 Airmen across the state, helping save the lives of citizens battling a statewide ice storm that left the Commonwealth largely paralyzed by extreme cold, power outages, and food and water shortages.

Most recently, Stone returned from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan as the deputy commander of the 466th Air Expeditionary Group. In that role, he conducted numerous outside-the-wire missions to exercise administrative and operational control of 3,100 Airmen — one-third of all United States Air Force troops in the country — who were deployed as Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airmen supporting Army and Marine Corps missions at 154 different forward operating bases.

“To the men and women of the MSG, you are the finest group of Airmen that I ever hope to command,” Stone said during the ceremony. “Working with you as the deputy group commander over the past six years has been amazing.”

“Supporting units here and around the world is our mission in the Unites States Air Force,” he continued. “Nobody does it better than you. Let’s keep doing it and I look forward to further challenges with you.”

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