174th Attack Wing Change of Command

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James Hockey
  • 174th Attack Wing

HANCOCK FIELD, Syracuse NY: June 4, 2023 - Members of the 174th Attack Wing gathered at Hancock Field in the wing’s hangar for a change of command ceremony, representing the time-honored military tradition of the outgoing commander relinquishing command to the incoming commander.

Col. William J. McCrink III, outgoing 174th Attack Wing commander, ceremoniously handed the wing guidon to Col. John R. O’Connor, representing the formal change of command. The ceremony was presided over by Maj. Gen.Denise M. Donnell, Assistant Adjutant General and Commander, New York Air National Guard.

Col. O’Connor returns to the 174th as he previously held multiple positions here, last being the commander of the Mission Support Group from 2014-2019. Upon his departure from the 174th in 2019, O’Connor was the Principal Deputy Director of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection at the National Guard Bureau from 2019-2022 and was the wing Vice Commander at the 107th Attack Wing, Niagara Falls, NY from 2022 to now.

“I could not have wished for a better command. Could not have wished for a better way to end my Air Force career”, said McCrink, as he addressed the wing’s members. With his family in attendance, McCrink thanked the unit members for their dedication, hard work, and commitment to excellence.

“You provide 32% of the combat capability of the total Air Force. You do it with 21% of the Air Force budget and only 7% of the personnel. Just simply amazing what you do”, McCrink said.

Col. McCrink became the 174th Attack Wing commander in 2020 and has had numerous assignments and positions since his military career began as a United States Air Force academy graduate in 1996. He is a command rated pilot with over 2,400 hours flying both the MQ-9 and F-16. His career has included assignments in Oklahoma, Arizona, Alaska, New Jersey, the Republic of Korea, Italy, Fort Drum and eventually Hancock Field starting in 2011, holding numerous positions here until being named wing commander in 2020.

During her comments, Maj. Gen. Donnell thanked Col McCrink for his service and leadership to the 174th and his family for their support. Of Col. O’Connor, she said “He is the right officer at the right time to lead this wing into the future”.

Col. O’Connor was commissioned as an officer in 1989 and served on active duty for nine years before joining the New York National Guard in 1998. He has held several command positions at the squadron and group levels in both the maintenance and mission support groups. He has deployed in support of combat operations and has served as the International Military Student Officer responsible for managing international student attendance at the MQ-9 Reaper Field Training Detachment.

“It is not lost on me the significance of my selection to command this wing”, said O’Connor, as he officially took command. He reflected on the units past and how he is looking forward to serve both the members and their families into the future.

“Airman of the 174th, before we look to the future, it’s always important to reflect on the past. The 174th has a rich history of dedication, innovation and excellence in combat operations, training and support”. He added “looking to the future, everyone in this hangar knows we face incredible challenges ahead”. He stressed his confidence in the abilities of everyone on Hancock Field to meet those challenges and is eager to move forward in tackling them.

The mission of the 174th Attack Wing is to provide qualified Airmen and weapon systems for joint global air, space and cyberspace operations, in support of homeland defense, and to aid civil authorities at the direction of the Governor of New York State. We are home to a number of diverse and unique missions, including the MQ-9 combat operations mission, MQ-9 aircrew Formal Training Unit, MQ-9 Formal Training Detachment, and the 152nd Air Operations Group.