By Senior Airman John Linzmeier, 18th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 10, 2017
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, presides over the 18th Wing change of command from Brig. Gen. Barry Cornish to Brig. Gen. Case Cunningham July 10, 2017 at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The change of command is a traditional military ceremony in which the command is transferred to the incoming commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, salutes Shogun Airmen during the 18th Wing change of command July 10, 2017 at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Martinez presided over the ceremony, transferring command from Brig. Gen. Barry Cornish to Brig. Gen. Case Cunningham. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)
U.S. Airmen from the 18th Wing render their first salute to Brig. Gen. Case Cunningham during the 18th Wing change of command July 10, 2017 at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Cunningham assumed command of the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat wing from Brig. Gen. Barry Cornish. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)
Brig. Gen. Barry R. Cornish relinquished command of the 18th Wing to Brig. Gen. Case Cunningham during a change of command ceremony July 10 at Kadena Air Base, Japan.
Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, presided over the event held inside a hangar where Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and distinguished U.S. and Okinawan guests welcomed the new commander.
Martinez commended Cornish for his dedication, innovation, and leadership and welcomed Cunningham to the command.
To show gratitude for Cornish’s contributions toward strengthening the bond between the U.S. and Japanese forces, Japan Air Self-Defense Force Lt. General Shigeki Muto, Southwestern Air Defense Force commander, presented him with a defense cooperation award, which was followed by the citation of a letter of appreciation from JASDF General Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, Koku-Jieitai chief of staff.
The letter stated “His many achievements reflect his profound understanding on Japan, sincerity and strong sense of responsibility. Our respect and confidence toward him will be long remembered as a basis of friendship between the United States and Japan.”
In his final address to the Airmen of the 18th Wing, Cornish expressed his gratitude and thanks toward everyone who made his command a success, to include friends, allied partners and his family.
“Fellow Shoguns,” said Cornish, “I have one last request. Continue the legacy you have built. Our friends, partners and allies around the Pacific trust you daily to provide air power on demand and you’ve never failed to deliver. I am humbled beyond words to have served along your side and to have been a part of your team.”
After the guidon flag was passed from the previous commander to current, Cunningham stressed his appreciation for the opportunity to lead the Air Force’s largest combat wing and carry out its mission.
Cunningham gave his vision for the 18th Wing and promised his unwavering commitment to continue to improve upon the mission already being accomplished at Kadena. Before taking the reins of the 18th Wing, Cunningham served as commander of the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. He was also the commander and lead pilot for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, Nellis AFB, Nev., from 2010 to 2012.
"It is an amazing honor to stand on this stage in front of all of you and join this fantastic team and awesome alliance that is the keystone of keeping the peace in the Pacific, while defending Japanese and U.S. mutual interests,” said Cunningham. “I look forward to working with so many of you in this hangar to continue to provide the most ready, capable, resilient, joint and coalition team that Kadena has been known so well for.”
Cunningham’s operational career began upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. in 1994 as a political science major. Since then, his educational pursuit lead him to earning several other degrees such as a Master of Arts in national security studies, American Military University, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in military strategy, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
As the ceremony came to a close, the new commander shared his vision for the Wing’s future.
“Together, we will continue to write the next chapter of Kadena's history,” Cunningham said. “These challenging and dynamic times require bold, courageous and exemplary leadership at every single level to be absolutely the most-ready possible with our available resources. You can count on that from me and I'll expect that from you, as I provide unwavering support for the squadron commanders who lead the Airmen and truly provide the asymmetric advantage that makes this team so great.”
“I'm absolutely honored to join the 'Shogun' family and to serve and to lead you as your wing commander.”