Rochester resident becomes commander of New York Air Guard's 174th Attack Wing

Col. John O'Connor replaces Col. William McCrink III during June 4, 2023 ceremony

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Col. John O' Connor receives the 174th Attack Wing guidon from Maj. Gen. Denise Donnell, New York Air National Guard Commander, during change of command ceremonies on June 4, 2023.

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE, NEW YORK (06/06/2023) (readMedia)-- New York Air National Guard Col. John O'Connor, a Rochester resident, took command of the Air Guard's 174th Attack Wing during a June 4 ceremony at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse.

O'Connor previously served as the vice commander of the 107th Attack Wing, which is based at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

He replaced Col. William J. McCrink III, who took command of the wing in 2020. McCrink will be retiring after a 27-year career in the Air Force.

O'Connor, served in the 174th from 1999 to 2019 before a three year tour of duty as principal deputy director of logistics, engineering, and force protection at Air National Guard headquarters which he completed in June 2022.

In his remarks, O'Connor said he was proud to serve in the 174th once again.

"The 174th has a rich history of dedication, innovation and excellence in combat operations, training and support," O'Connor said.

"Looking to the future, everyone in this hangar knows we face incredible challenges ahead". But, O'Connor said, he is confident that the wing's Airmen can meet those challenges.

In his remarks, McCrink praise the men and women of the wing.

"I could not have wished for a better command. Could not have wished for a better way to end my Air Force career", McCrink said.

The 174th Attack Wing flies the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft which is used for reconnaissance and attack missions.

174th Airmen fly these aircraft in support of U.S. operations in the Middle East and other locations from a command center at Hancock Field.

The 174th Attack Wing also trains MQ-9 pilots and the enlisted Airmen who control the high-tech cameras and other sensors. The wing is also responsible for training MQ-9 maintenance personnel.

Wing Airmen also respond to emergencies here at home, ranging from snow storms to Lake Ontario flooding, and provide trained personnel to deploy around the world in support of Air Force missions.

O'Connor was commissioned through the United States Air Force Officer Training School at LackLand Air Force Base, Texas, in 1989 after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh.

He entered active duty in September of 1989 and served as a supply operations and logistics manager in the active Air Force for nine years. During that time, he served a Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina and Plattsburgh Air Force Base, as well as serving as an Air Force ROTC instructor at Rochester Institute of Technology.

While serving on active duty he deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1993 and 1994.

O'Connor transferred to the New York Air National Guard in 1989 and was assigned to the 174th Fighter Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. The wing then flew the F-16 fighter.

He served in many supply and logistics positions with the 174th Fighter Wing and then assisted in the wing's transition to the 174th Attack Wing, flying the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft.

In October and November 2003, he deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and served as the Senior Aircraft Maintenance Officer for the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group.

After returning to the New York Air National Guard in June 2022 from his assignment at Air National Guard headquarters he was ssigned to the 107th Attack Wing. The 107th also flies the MQ-9 Reaper.

O'Connor is a graduate of the Air War College, the Reserve Component National Security Course at the National Defense University in Washington, the Air Command and Staff College and the Air National Guard Commander Development Course.

He also holds a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Troy University in Troy, Alabama.

His awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Unit Award, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.