Flying Jennies welcome new commander

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carranza
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Lt. Col. Matthew Sikkink assumed command of the Air Force Reserve’s 815th Airlift Squadron aka “Flying Jennies,” from Lt. Col. Stuart Rubio during a change of command ceremony June 6, 2019 at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.

Sikkink, a C-130 pilot with more than 2,400 flight hours, comes to Keesler from 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan, where he served as the Chief of Safety.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to take command of this premier unit and the leadership challenges that lay ahead,” said Sikkink.  

Col. Jennie Johnson, 403rd Wing commander, presided over the ceremony and welcomed Sikkink and his family.

“What an auspicious day to be in the uniform on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It’s a great day to be at an event like this,” said Johnson “To the Sikkink family, welcome to the 815th and 403rd family. I am confident that Matt is inheriting the best C-130 unit in the Air Force.”

The 815th AS is an Air Force Reserve Command tactical airlift unit that transports supplies, equipment and personnel into a theater of operation. The unit received the first C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in the Air Force inventory in 1999, and the wing flies and maintains 10 of those aircraft.

Johnson thanked Rubio and his family for his service and care of the unit, Airmen and their families throughout his tenure.

“To Stuart and the Rubio family, thank you for all you do and enabling him to take care of his Airmen,” said Johnson.

The 815th AS heraldry dates back to World War II where it originated as the 815th Bombardment Squadron flying B-17 missions over Italy, France and Germany. The legacy continues today in support of overseas operations throughout Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa.

“How cool is it that we get to celebrate this event on this day, which 75 years ago started with tactical airlift,” said Rubio. “Those aircrew members are the giants upon which our mission has been built. It’s been an absolute honor to have been called the commander of the 815th Airlift Squadron, and it’s honestly been the best job I have ever had.”

Rubio thanked the Airmen of the 815th one last time.

“Thank you for volunteering your time, your energy, and everything you have to make this squadron what we are now,” said Rubio. “I believe that this is the best tactical airlift squadron in the world.”

Sikkink closed the ceremony with his remarks for the Airmen of the 815th.   

“To the men and women of the 815th it is a great honor to be able to work with you for the next couple of years,” said Sikkink.”This unit is like a family with deep bonds and a rich history, and I am positive that we can work together to keep the Flying Jennies the first and finest C-130J squadron in the Air Force.”