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717th Air Base Squadron changes command

Photo of two Airmen passing a guidon.

Lt. Col. Troy Smith, 717th Air Base Squadron commander accepts the 717th Air Base Wing guidon from the Col. Christopher Rubiano, 39th Mission Support Group commander during a change of command ceremony at the Ankara Support Facility, Ankara Turkey, July 17, 2020. The 717th’s mission is to project soft power to the U.S. and international community by developing partnerships and providing support to build connective tissues as the pulse of Ankara combat support. (Courtesy Photo by James Giraldi)

Photo of Airman giving a speech.

Col. Christopher Rubiano, 39th Mission Support Group commander speaks to attendees during the 717th Air Base Squadron change of command ceremony at the Ankara Support Facility, Ankara, Turkey, July 17, 2020. The 717th Air Base Squadron, a geographically separated unit of the 39th Air Base Wing plays a crucial role in providing communications, infrastructure, and service support to 1,100 U.S. military members stationed in Ankara, Turkey. (Courtesy Photo by James Giraldi)

Group photo of Airmen at a change of command

The Airmen of the 717th Air Base Squadron stand with 39th Air Base Wing leadership following the 717th Air Base Squadron change of command ceremony at the Ankara Support Facility, Ankara, Turkey, July 17, 2020. The squadron provides support to 1,100 military members stationed in Ankara from various organizations, including the Office of Defense Cooperation Turkey, the U.S. embassy community, and a Department of Defense Education Activity school. (Courtesy Photo by James Giraldi)

ANKARA, Turkey --

The 717th Air Base Squadron welcomed Lt. Col. Troy Smith as the newest squadron commander during a change of command ceremony at the Ankara Support Facility, Ankara, Turkey, July 17, 2020.

“The 717th Air Base Squadron is a key unit for the 39th Air Base Wing. They project soft power to the U.S and international community by developing partnerships and providing support to build connective tissues as the pulse of Ankara,” said Col. Christopher Rubiano, 39th Mission Support Group commander.

Rubiano praised the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. James Gingras, headed to United States Space Force headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

“During his tour at Ankara, Gingras has led the squadron to provide support to numerous on-call aerial port operations for 70 distinguished visitors and nearly 500 staff members, with one operation supporting the short-notice arrival of the Vice President of the United States, to help enable a conflict cease-fire and withdrawal,” Rubiano added.

Gingras shared final words to his squadron, reflecting on his time as the commander.

“The leadership and support from many units has been vital,” he said. “You’ve flexed and focused on the mission, getting it done no matter what happened. You met the needs of the community and I thank you for your support."

Gingras shared his confidence in the new commander’s abilities and looks forward to hearing what is next for the 717th.

Smith previously served as the Assistant Air Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Ankara, Turkey. In this role he was responsible for shaping U.S. policy and keeping executive branch decision-makers informed on the military and political environment in Turkey for the purpose of advancing U.S. national interests in the region.

Following the passing of the guidon, Smith spoke to his new unit about Air Force core values, and his personal values.

“When Airmen enter the Air Force they are handed a set of values to uphold,” said Smith. “Integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do.  I value these, and a few other things. I value this mission; this mission is the connective tissue between the United States and Turkey, two powers committed to the mutual defense of one another. This mission is important, cannot fail.”

“I value all of you,” he said. “I want you to be successful in life separate from the mission. You're important, and you are the mission.”   

Smith’s final value was family.

“I value my immediate family, my larger family watching this from home and the extended family that has adopted me along the way.”

Smith concluded his speech with a challenge to the Airmen of the 717th ABS.  

“I'm going to impose something on you,” he said. “I'm going to impose my values on you. I want you to value the mission because it's important. I want you to value each other and I want you to value your family. And maybe family has a sting to it, and if that's the case, hopefully the 717th can be your family.”