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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The 35th Fighter Wing has a new leader who wants a seamless transition.

Col. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said he has no immediate changes planned and asks only that the wing continue to focus on the mission and strive for the same excellence achieved under his predecessors.

“I don’t think we have to change the direction that the wing is going per se,” O’Shaughnessy said in an interview Monday, five days after assuming command from Brig. Gen. Sam Angelella.

O’Shaughnessy’s priorities are similar to Angelella’s, he said: “We need to take care of the mission but we absolutely have to take care of our people.”

After commanding the 57th Adversary Tactics Group at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., O’Shaughnessy, 42, steps into his first wing commander’s job — a daunting, humbling and exciting challenge, he said.

“When I look back and I look at even some of the people I’ve known over my career, to see the positions that they’re in, the position that I’m in now as a wing commander, it’s really beyond our wildest dreams,” he said. “How quickly time passes.”

O’Shaughnessy’s Air Force career began at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

He graduated in 1986.

But the desire to fly — fighter jets, to be precise — sprouted years before during a youth spent playing hockey and other sports in Framingham, Mass., outside of Boston.

“I’ve always just wanted to fly, as long as I can remember,” he said. “I wake up just as excited now after 20-plus years as I did as a second lieutenant.”

O’Shaughnessy has always been paired with the F-16, which he started flying in pilot training.

“It’s an extremely capable aircraft and I’m very proud to have flown it for 20 years,” he said.

O’Shaughnessy has worked with the 35th Fighter Wing’s previous two commanders: Angelella — who moved on to U.S. Pacific Command as deputy director of strategic planning and policy, and Brig. Gen. William Rew, now commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis.

Their advice to O’Shaughnessy was to embrace the opportunity and cultivate professional and personal relationships with Misawa city civic leaders, the colonel said.

O’Shaughnessy looks to Rew as the mentor who perhaps more than anyone has influenced his military career, he said, “in both leadership style as well as being a good example of a very professional and very successful officer.”

As a leader, O’Shaughnessy said he likes to know and understand what his commanders are doing, “but I like to let them run their own organizations. Make those tough decisions and not funnel them up, if decisions should be made at their level,” he said, “and also to really take heart in the fact that they are commanders.”

O’Shaughnessy will be joined at Misawa by his wife, Donna, and their newborn baby.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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