Virtual change of command

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

As the wind and rain from Tropical Storm Cristobal hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Maj. Kimberly Spusta took command of the 12th Operational Weather Flight located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois during a virtual change of command ceremony June 7.

Spusta goes to the 12th OWF after serving nine years on active duty and five years in the Air Force Reserve, where she currently serves as an Aerial Reconnaissance Weather Officer in the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.

“I am excited and humbled to be given the opportunity to command this fantastic team of weather Airmen,” said Spusta. “And thank you to Colonel Rubio for the chance, and for your trust and confidence in me.”

Col. Stuart Rubio, 403rd Operations Group commander, who presided over the ceremony, thanked all who attended the virtual ceremony, including the 403rd Wing commander Col. Jeffrey Van Dootingh, other wing members and family members.

“One of the greatest privileges that I have is to proceed over the changes of command for the diverse units within the operations group,” said Rubio

As Rubio listed the changes that the 12th OWF has gone through, from supporting a local unit at Scott AFB to being a geographically separated unit assigned to the 403rd Wing, and now changing their overall concept of operations.

For a small unit they are tasked to service the Northern Command, Pacific Command, Southern Command which covers the vast majority of the globe, as well as the Transportation Command, which covers the entire globe, proves that this is not a small mission.

“They also team up with the 5th OWF to support all of the other major commands,” said Rubio. “It is definitely a team effort, and they have done it amazingly well. Year after year they have increased their integration in support of the active duty missions.”

While the main job of a commander is to focus on the mission, often the most important part of the job is to take care of the people and Rubio said that Laura did that in an outstanding manner.

Outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Laura Maddin said it was an honor and privilege to work at the 12th OWF and expressed her thanks to the members, past and present, and to her family.

“Looking at weather and our mission here, there is some irony that we are conducting a change of command while the folks at Keesler (AFB) are in the midst of Tropical Storm Cristobal,” said Maddin. “It really wouldn’t be a weather event, unless we have something going on, whether it is snowstorms canceling visits and now a tropical storm.”

Some things that Rubio said he was looking for in a commander was experience and knowledge in the total force.

“Kim has experience from active duty, Reserve, even in her specialized civilian career field dealing with air filtration,” said Rubio. “She has international experience after being stationed overseas, multiple deployments, working with joint partners outside of the Air Force and her leadership ability when she worked as a Basic Military Training squadron Director of Operations.”

He said he was excited to see how Spusta leads the 12th OWF group of professionals to new heights.

“I can’t wait to personally assist you in making that a reality,” said Rubio.

Spusta said that her greatest assignments were those when she led Airmen; such as when she led BMT instructors in molding new Airmen and working with weather teams both here and abroad.

She said she is proud to have been given this opportunity to command the 12th OWF in order to learn, grow and lead with the best of the best.

“To the 12th, thank you for your dedication and service to the Air Force and our nation, it is an honor to be here, an honor to serve, and I look forward to meeting all of you in person,” said Spusta. “Until then, please take care of yourselves.”