419th welcomes first female commander, F-35 pilot

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 419th Fighter Wing welcomed its first female commander during a change of command ceremony here today.

Col. Regina “Torch” Sabric assumed command from Col. David “Shooter” Smith, who has served as commander since November 2015.

Sabric will be the wing’s first female F-35 pilot upon completing flight training in the fifth-generation aircraft in July. She comes to the 419th with diverse flying experience having piloted the T-34, T-39, T-1, T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-15, F-16, MQ-9, and C-146. She has flown combat missions and combat support missions in Operations Allied Force and Enduring Freedom, and has served multiple times in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle.

Upon taking command, Sabric spoke to a crowd of Airmen, base leadership, and community leaders about the future of the wing.

“There’s no place I would rather be right now,” Sabric said. “We live in the greatest country in the world with the greatest military in the world, and the 419th Fighter Wing is one of the reasons that we hold this title.”

As commander, Sabric will lead more than 1,200 reservists who train in F-35 operations, maintenance, and mission support, along with a medical squadron. These reservists serve part-time – at least one weekend per month and two weeks per year – and train to the same standard as active duty.

Sabric noted that the 419th FW is the only operational F-35 wing in the Air Force Reserve, and stressed the importance of that mission in defending freedom.

“That airplane (F-35) standing to my left is built to be the premier fifth-generation fighter of the Air Force – it’s built for lethality, survivability, and adaptability,” Sabric said. “But we too, as Airmen, must hold those same traits. We must be lethal by being ready, survivable by being resilient, and adaptable by ensuring we have balance as Reserve Citizen Airmen.”

Prior to her assignment here, Sabric served as commander of the 919th Special Operations Group at Duke Field, Fla. The Pennsylvania native graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering before commissioning in the Air Force in 1996.

Smith will take a new position in Washington, D.C. as mobilization assistant to the director, Operational Capability Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements.