Q&A: Commander impressed by local hospitality

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

Col. Tim Leahy assumed command Monday of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base. The 44-year-old Staten Island, N.Y., native is married with two children.

He previously served as vice-commander of the 16th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Q: Were you raised in a military family?
A: No, my father served in the Navy during the Korean War, but it was a short stint.

Q: Why did you choose to join the Air Force?
A: At a very young age, I knew I wanted to fly. I knew I wanted to be a pilot. My uncle was a pilot, so I asked him how to do it. He told me to join the Air Force and I took his advice.

Q: How does it feel to be selected the first commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing?
A: It’s an absolute, unbelievable honor to be given any kind of command.

Q: How soon will airmen and aircraft begin arriving at Cannon?
A: A handful have already arrived and others will begin trickling in now. The 73rd Special Operations Squadron will arrive between November and February. The MC-130Ws will arrive at Cannon as they roll off the production line. While they aren’t a new aircraft, they are being given a new life.

Q: What are your priorities?
A: To take Cannon and transform it from a fighter squadron to a special operations squadron. We plan to train and employ the greatest special operations airmen.
In time, joint special operations training with the Navy Seals and the Army Special Forces will be taking place at Cannon and at the Melrose Bombing Range.

Q: The 27th Fighter Wing has had a close partnership with the community. Will the 27th Special Operations Wing continue that?
A: Yes, that is a core trait of the United States Air Force. We want to continue that relationship. This is one of the most enthusiastic communities I have seen, and we look forward to working with them.

Q: What was your first impression of Clovis?
A: I can sum it up in one word: Friendly. Clovis has the most courteous and most welcoming people.

Q: Who will you look to for guidance as you take on your new role as commander?
A: AFSOC staff and the United States Special Operations staff.

Q: There is still one active fighter squadron, the 522nd Fighter Squadron, at Cannon. What are your plans for these airmen?
A: They will continue to fly and stay ready to fight until the last F-16 has left the base.