Niagara Falls, NY (release) -- New York Air National Guard Col. John Higgins, a master navigator with over 3,500 hours flying in the F-4 Phantom fighter , the F-111 bomber and the C-130 Hercules, will replace Col. Jim McCready as commander of the 107th Airlift Wing today.
Higgins, who has been Vice Commander of the wing since August 2011, previously served as the Air National Guard advisor to the Air Force Special Operations Command and as Air National Guard Advisor for Air Force Strategic Planning.
"He joins one of the best units in the country; led and supported by a team of talented professionals," said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York.
During his tour at National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. from 2002 to 2009, Higgins was responsible for all Air National Guard unit mission conversions and served as Deputy Division Chief overseeing the mobilization of over 35,000 Air National Guard personnel in the Global War on Terror.
As commander of the 107th Airlift Wing, Higgins will be responsible for the deployment and employment of over 800 assigned personnel and equipment ensuring these assets are available to support all state and national requirements.
Higgins holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Buffalo State College and a Masters degree from Troy State University, AL.
Higgins was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1983 and served as a, F-111E "Aardvark" Instructor weapons system officer, Chief of Training, and Wing Plans Officer, for the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, based a Royal Air Force Base Upper Heyford in Great Britain from 1987 to 1991 and served in the 914th Airlift Wing, at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from 1991 to 1997.
He also served in the 8th Special Operations Squadron and Air Force Special Operations Headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Florida from 1997 to 2001 and was a member of the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, New York in 2001- 2002.
Higgins military schools include Air War College and Air Command and Staff College.
His awards include the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (five awards) , the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Antarctica Service medal, Aerial Achievement Medal (two awards), the Air Force Outstanding Unit with Valor Ribbon (three awards), the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Joint Service Achievement Medal.
He is a Western New York Native and currently resides in Grand Island with his wife Lisa.