Col. Timothy Murphy, 8th Fighter Wing commander, speaks during a ceremony at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, June 2, 2023.

Col. Timothy Murphy, 8th Fighter Wing commander, speaks during a ceremony at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, June 2, 2023. (Sadie Colbert/U.S. Air Force)

SEOUL, South Korea — The head of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base will relinquish command due to personal reasons after less than half a year on the job.

Col. Timothy Murphy will retire “earlier than planned” on Feb. 1 “solely due to family reasons,” said a news release from 7th Air Force at Osan Air Base, roughly 75 miles north of Kunsan.

Murphy took charge of the wing on May 25. He previously served as vice commander of the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

“I did not make this decision lightly, but know it is the best choice for the well-being of my family and the 8th Fighter Wing,” he said in the release. “I want to thank the Wolf Pack community for respecting our privacy and being so understanding as we transition to retirement.”

The Wolf Pack is the 8th Fighter Wing icon: the initials WP are painted on the wing’s aircraft tails. The wing is composed of about 3,200 U.S. service members and Defense Department civilian employees, as well as around 30 F-16s.

Reached by phone Tuesday, 7th Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Rachel Buitrago declined to elaborate on the matter and said Murphy’s decision was based solely on his family’s well-being.

Col. Matthew Gaetke, commander of the 607th Air Operations Center at Osan, will take charge of the wing on Nov. 8 during a change-of-command ceremony at Kunsan, according to the release.

Seventh Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Scott Pleus thanked Murphy for his 22 years of service.

“We are thankful for Colonel Murphy’s service and leadership, not only here in [South Korea], but throughout his entire distinguished career,” Pleus said in the release. “Tim has done an incredible job leading the 8th Fighter Wing’s Wolf Pack, and they are postured, ready and responsive today because of that leadership.”

During Murphy’s tenure as wing commander, Kunsan F-16s have participated in numerous aerial exercises in and around the Korean Peninsula, including the first trilateral air drill between Japanese and South Korean fighter jets on Oct. 22.

Murphy was commissioned with a history degree from the Air Force Academy in 2001, according to his biography. He has clocked over 2,000 flight hours, 409 of them in combat, on F-16 Fighting Falcons and training aircraft. His awards include the Bronze Star, Inherent Resolve Campaign and Afghanistan Campaign medals.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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