Osan welcomes new 'Mustang 1'
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Hundreds of Airmen from across the base welcomed the new 51st Fighter Wing commander, Col. Brook "Tank" Leonard, during a change of command ceremony here July 19.
The presiding officer of the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, 7th Air Force commander, spoke after the presentation of the colors and the ceremony's invocation.
"It's great to be in the company of so many great warriors who epitomize our mission here at 7th Air Force to deter, defend and defeat," Jouas said. "Today we honor an outstanding outgoing wing commander and welcome to the Korean Air Power team, a new commander."
After discussing the 51st FW's illustrious history in combat air superiority, the 7th AF commander then spoke about the wing's current obligations.
"Today the 51st Fighter Wing continues to stand watch in armistice ready to again take to the skies to defend the Republic of Korea and defeat our enemies," he said. "To those that challenge these warriors, we say 'Harrumph!' and 'Pilsung!'... Our adversaries know that we are ready to defend this country if called upon to do so."
Jouas then spoke about some of the wing's accomplishments under its outgoing commander, Col. Patrick "Smack" McKenzie, before touching on what might be the outgoing commander's biggest impact on the peninsula.
"The wing hosted more than 1,500 deployed Airmen and you also got plenty of practice in your expeditionary skills during 12 wing and peninsula-wide exercises," Jouas explained. "But while Colonel McKenzie was leading the excellent performance on the practice field, North Korea was drawing world-wide attention with its rhetoric and threats to the ROK and the United States. Colonel McKenzie and the 51st FW were pivotal in sending a very strong message to the North Korean leader by helping to plan and execute the first ever B-2 mission in the Korean peninsula. I can assure everyone here today that that message was received in Pyongyang loud and clear."
After thanking McKenzie for everything he's done for the entire Mustang community, Jouas welcomed Leonard, who comes to Osan from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, where he served as the 451st Expeditionary Operations Group commander.
"It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome to Korea's Air Power team, Colonel Brook 'Tank' Leonard," Jouas said. "As a career fighter pilot with 2,300 flying hours and multiple challenging commands, Colonel Leonard understands what it takes to serve as the commander of such a powerful and proud wing. Tank, welcome back to the Mustangs, you are about to embark on the greatest and most rewarding adventure of your life. Today, you take command of almost 4,000 of the finest Airmen in the world, and one of the Air Force's most storied wings."
Before calling McKenzie to the center of the stage to award him the Legion of Merit for "especially meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States as commander, 51st Fighter Wing, Republic of Korea," Jouas thanked those in attendance for their dedication and commitment to being "Ready to Fight and Win Tonight."
After receiving his LOM award, McKenzie also received the Korean Order of National Security Merit, Gukseon Medal, on behalf of South Korean President, Park Geun-hye. After receiving his awards, McKenzie started his speech by thanking everyone in attendance, his superior officers, members of the local community, and his family, before talking about his time as Mustang 1.
"Two years ago I was sitting in the chair that Colonel Leonard is sitting in today, and I can tell you with great certainty that the emotions I had then are quite different than the emotions I have now," McKenzie said. "Today I'm sad, I'm a little emotional, but most importantly, I'm extremely proud. It's never fun to hand off or say goodbye to something that you have poured your heart and soul into. More importantly to me is the pride that I feel for what you have given me, the mission of the 51st Fighter Wing, and the values and beliefs of two great nations."
McKenzie then thanked the Airmen of Osan before saying an emotional goodbye.
"Every one of you wears the uniform and you do so as volunteers; you've chosen a path that takes an incredible amount of commitment, effort, and dedication in order to be successful, and you exuded pride that was unmatched," the former commander said. "I thank you for what you have already contributed to the United States Air Force and I'll thank you in advance for how you will pass along what you have learned. To all the Mustangs: Tank, Maria and their young Mustangs are 100 percent Smack approved. He is without question the right Airman to take Osan and the Mustangs to greater heights. Best wishes to the wing. Mustang 1 out."
After receiving his final salute as the 51st FW commander, McKenzie relinquished his command. The guidon was then passed to Leonard who shared his thoughts about assuming command of the wing.
"Thank you for the opportunity to get to serve you and once again be a part of the greatest family Maria and I have ever seen," Leonard said. "Thank you Colonel McKenzie. The impact that your leadership has is reflected from every point on this base and from all across Korea. As we collectively continue to build on this excellence I wanted to leave you with three thoughts: touchdowns, teamwork, and trench warfare."
"Touchdowns illustrate why we are here - we must be unequivocally ready to fight and win tonight, so to do that, we must give our best every day, every play, because kicking field goals is how you lose football games; scoring touchdowns and giving your best is how you win," Leonard said. "Teamwork is how we bring out our best and it's about service, sacrifice and respect for others. We're not here just to fill ATO lines and win the day, we're here to win the campaign. Trench warfare illustrates what we do best. It's about daily, disciplined execution. It highlights the importance of innovation, both evolutionary and incremental improvements. Improving your position every day makes your foxhole better."
Before receiving his first salute as Mustang 1, Leonard concluded his speech by telling everyone in attendance that he is honored to join the fight.
"Overall, to defend, execute and receive, we need to be about building our team and making it better," he said. "To close, it's great to be back at Osan. I look forward to serving each and every one of you."