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A new era begins
Lt. Gen. Michael W. Wooley (left), commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, passes the guidon of the newly formed 27th Special Operations Wing to the new commander of the wing Col. Tim Leahy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez)
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New chapter for Air Force Special Operations begins

Posted 10/1/2007   Updated 10/1/2007 Email story   Print story

    


by Airman Elliott Sprehe
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


10/1/2007 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --  A new chapter for Air Force Special Operations began as Col. Tim Leahy took command of the newly designated 27th Special Operations Wing during a unit redesignation and change-of-command ceremony here Oct. 1. 

Moments earlier, Col. Scott West, commander of the 27th Fighter Wing, closed a chapter of the Air Force, albeit not permanently, when he handed the colors of the 27th FW to Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, 12th Air Force/Air Force Southern commander. 

The colors of the 27th FW were then cased, formally inactivating the unit. 

"I'm ready to give up the 27th FW and turn it over to a great organization, as (Cannon Airmen) stand ready to become proud members of the 27th SOW," said General Seip, who praised Col. West's time as the commander of the 27th FW. 

Col. West thanked his wife, Jane for her support, and the men and women of the 27th FW. He vouched for the character and quality of the Airmen who will remain at Cannon. His next assignment is at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, 

The outgoing commander and the 27th FW Airmen then received a final salute in the historic change-of-command 

Col. Leahy, former vice commander of the 1st SOW at Hurlburt Field, Fla., accepted command of the new wing from Lt. Gen. Michael Wooley, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.
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General Wooley spoke about standing up the 27th SOW, which is now one of two active-duty special operations wings in the United States Air Force. 

"We did it," said General Wooley, as applause erupted from the crowd. "Our promise to you is that we will uphold the high standards that the 27th FW has been so faithfully known for throughout its rich history." 

General Wooley then ceremoniously passed the guidon to Colonel Leahy, the first commander of the 27th SOW, who accepted command of the wing and then made his first address as the new commander of the Air Force's newest wing. 

"I'd like to thank the men and women of AFSOC, Air Combat Command, and 12th AF who worked to make the transition of this base from one [Air Force] major command to another," said Col. Leahy. "I assure you the 27th SOW, like the 27th FW before it, will be good neighbors, and together we will make New Mexico and even better place to work and raise our families." 

The first AFSOC aircraft to move to Cannon will be the 73rd Special Operations Squadron's MC-130W Combat Spear currently located at Hurlburt Field. The MC-130W conducts infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces and provides refueling capability for special operations vertical-lift assets like the CV-22 Osprey. 

The total number of aircraft, to be stationed at Cannon is expected to be around 100. The final active-duty population at Cannon is expected to be between 4,400 to 5,600 people. It will take approximately three years to complete the build-up of the new special operations wing at Cannon.



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