Polanco takes command of 168th Air Refueling Squadron

Release Number: 16-101

Lt. Col. Jhonny Polanco assumed command of the 168th Air Refueling Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, today during a ceremony held here at the operation group's theater.

Polanco most recently served as the 168th Operations Support Squadron, director of operations, a position he had held since June of 2015.

Col. Bryan White, commander of the 168th Operations Group and presiding officer for today's ceremony, began by first recognizing Polanco's wife and daughters, "Carmen, thank you. Not only for being here today, but for the many hundreds of times you've been out here to welcome home families, willing to give up your time and energy to do so. You've always brought the girls with you, you are part of this family."

Polanco joined the operations group in 2006 as a pilot, after separating from the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served from August 1997 until February 2006.

"For the last two years Jhonny has been, essentially the OSS commander, but without the official title. He's deployed to Guam, where he was the detachment commander for approximately 110 people and did outstanding," said White. 

"He is without a doubt, one of the most prepared people to ever accept a flag and become a commander," said White.

Polanco expressed his gratitude and thanked Col. White for the opportunity to lead, and thanked his family for their support throughout his career.

"Col. White, thank you for trusting me with our air refueling squadron. I am humbled and honored as I stand here now, I will not let you down sir," said Polanco.

"In 1997 I was working for UPS (United Parcel Service Inc.), driving the little trucks, but I'd been talking to the recruiters. She didn't know anything about it," said Polanco referring to his wife.

At the time the family was living in Queens, N.Y. and when Polanco told her that he'd enlisted his advice was, "Hang in there, we're going for a ride."

In his new role as commander, Polanco is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping the men and women assigned to the 168th ARS, preparing them for prompt mobilization and providing global reach to the United States and its coalition partners.