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20th FW welcomes new commander

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, 9th Air Force commander, left, gives the 20th Fighter Wing (FW) guidon to Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th FW commander, during a change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June, 8, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, 9th Air Force commander, left, gives the 20th Fighter Wing (FW) guidon to Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th FW commander, during a change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June, 8, 2018. O’Malley was appointed wing commander during the ceremony and assumed responsibility for approximately 6,600 Airmen and 8,000 family members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, performs his first salute as commander during a change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June, 8, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, performs his first salute as commander during a change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June, 8, 2018. O’Malley is a suppression of enemy air defense subject matter expert and former senior military advisor for air warfare systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

Members of Team Shaw and the local community gather during a 20th Fighter Wing (FW) change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June, 8, 2018.

Members of Team Shaw and the local community gather during a 20th Fighter Wing (FW) change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June, 8, 2018. Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, 9th Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony during which Col. Daniel Lasica relinquished command of the 20th FW to Col. Derek O’Malley. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Members of Team Shaw and the local community gathered for a 20th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, June 8.

Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, 9th Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony during which Col. Daniel Lasica relinquished command of the wing to Col. Derek O’Malley.

Previously the 338th FW vice commander at Hill AFB, Utah, O’Malley is a suppression of enemy air defense subject matter expert and former senior military advisor for air warfare systems.

“The Air Force has a history of sending great leaders to the 20th FW and that tradition and history continues today,” said Zobrist during the ceremony. “(O’Malley) is no newcomer to the SEAD mission that this wing is the best in the world at. He understands the mission. He’s an expert at the mission.”

O’Malley supported Operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom during his nearly 22-year Air Force career. While commanding the wing, O’Malley is expected to guide Airmen who also deploy in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

With his thorough knowledge of F-16 Fighting Falcon combat airpower and the SEAD mission, O’Malley is ready to lead Team Shaw to success.

“‘We fight America’s wars,’” said O’Malley, quoting a former pilot. “That’s exactly what we do here. We are a fighter wing and I know we’ve got important work to do, many battles ahead. As we send Airmen into combat and F-16s into combat, and battles here at home threaten our time and sometimes our sanity, I will be there with you in the trenches and in the cockpit to fight those battles. As of this moment, it is my honor to work for you.”

While leading Shaw in getting the mission done, the new 20th FW commander also plans to ensure the success of families and individual Airmen.

“The Airmen in this wing and the soldiers on this base and the families in this wing are not expendable,” said O’Malley. “We have to defend them. We have to defend their time, we have to take care of them. … I hope that there will be many times we together recognize that what we do here isn’t normal, it isn’t routine, it isn’t easy. It’s hard, but it’s absolutely necessary and also extraordinary.”

As O’Malley begins his tenure at Shaw, he is charged with commanding the nation’s core SEAD wing comprised of approximately 80 F-16s, 6,600 Airmen and 8,000 family members.

“He knows it takes the whole team that’s assembled here at Shaw AFB to execute the mission,” said Zobrist. “Bottom line is that Col. O’Malley is exactly the right kind of leader to build on Col. Lasica’s accomplishments and to take the wing and Team Shaw to the next level.”