111th OG Change of Command ushers in new RPA leader

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
  • ?111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
Col. John O'Brien assumed command of the 111th Operations Group, from the unit's outgoing commander, Col. Michael Shenk, during a change of command ceremony conducted Dec. 3, at the 111th Attack Wing headquarters here.

Col. Howard Eissler, the 111th Attack Wing commander, hosted the ceremony before an audience representing the entire 111th ATKW, family members and friends.

"We don't promote people on what they've done in the past; we promote them on what we expect for the future," Eissler said regarding O'Brien's advancement from commanding the 111th Operations Support Squadron. He continued by outlining his expectations for the new 111th OG commander: be an exceptional pilot, ensure the success of the Guardsmen, move the unit forward in its mission and respond to administrative requirements.

After a brief presentation, O'Brien addressed and challenged his Guardsmen as to how they want to define themselves.

"Are you going to be the guy that humbles himself, learns from his peers and then takes the lead? 

"Are you going to the guy that has a tactical prowess to go out there and sink a battleship, and the faith and confidence in yourself to do that when people around you are looking at you like, 'Nope, that ain't happening.'?

"Lastly, are you going to have the courage...not hesitating (to say), 'Send me.' And then have the strength and character when things [go] bad to say, 'That's not defining me; I'm better than that.'?"

O'Brien, a former A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, was joined by his family during the ceremony.

"I love having my children here to witness this," said O'Brien's wife. "My husband is the only one of our family in military service, so it's an honor to have him represent that for us." She continued by saying that she believes her husband's work ethic will help contribute to the continued success of the operations group here.

As the 111th OG commander, O'Brien is now postured as the highest ranking official for the unit's remotely-piloted aircraft mission. His Air Guardsmen are the dynamism behind the MQ-9 aircraft, which is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft that is employed as an intelligence collection asset and for dynamic execution targets.