Pacific edition, Sunday, June 17, 2007

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The U.S. Air Force fighter wing based 48 miles south of Korea’s Demilitarized Zone has a new commander after a Friday ceremony.

Col. Jon A. Norman assumed command of the 51st Fighter Wing, replacing Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes Jr., who moves to a new assignment.

Known as the “Mustangs,” the 51st is the most forward-deployed, permanently based fighter wing in the Air Force.

Its pilots fly F-16 fighters, A-10 attack planes, and the C-12 passenger plane.

Reynes, who commanded the wing since July 2005, moves to Langley Air Force Base, Va., to become inspector general at the Air Combat Command.

Norman until last month headed the 8th Operations Group, part of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base.

In remarks during the afternoon ceremony inside the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron hangar, 7th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood said Reynes had led the wing to “heights of excellence.”

That included the wing’s overall excellent rating during a recent Pacific Air Forces operational inspection.

Reynes also directed the largest military construction program in the base’s history, Wood said, with 67 projects that resulted in “constant improvement to the quality of life for all.”

In addition, Wood said, the wing’s F-16 and A-10 squadrons both were recognized as the “most combat ready fighter squadrons” within Pacific Air Forces.

In his farewell remarks, Reynes said that the wing stands ready to counter a North Korean regime that “continues to threaten the region and its neighbor to the south with weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.”

Norman said he was a “combat-focused” leader who expects everyone to “do their best.”

He told wing airmen he would be coming to them for their expertise.

Norman is an Iraq war combat veteran, a command pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours, and a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

He holds a master’s degree in military arts and science from the Army’s Command and General Staff College, and a master’s in national security studies from the National War College.

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