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First 35th Fighter Wing Change of Responsibility

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Antwain Hanks
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Today marked a significant milestone as the 35th Fighter Wing conducted its inaugural Change of Responsibility ceremony. Chief Master Sgt. David Najera stepped into the role of incoming command chief and officially assumed the mantle of responsibility from Chief Master Sgt. Cheronica Blandburg, the 35th FW outgoing command chief, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, on May 15, 2024.

The role of the 35th FW command chief is pivotal, serving as the senior enlisted advisor not only to the 35th FW but also to the Misawa AB installation command. This position carries significant weight on an 11,000-person base, with responsibilities extending to supporting eight associate units spanning all four services and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Additionally, the command chief shoulders the vital duty of ensuring the health, welfare, and morale of the installation’s enlisted force, encompassing two fighter squadrons, 35 support agencies, and over 3,000 personnel.

During her leadership, Blandburg served as the 35th FW command chief since June 6, 2022. Her tenure was marked by her instrumental role in leading Airmen to overcome unprecedented mission generation challenges, such as service life extension and radar system modernization to enable the execution of 5,000 flight sorties and 7,000 hours.

Moreover, Blandburg placed a premium on enhancing the quality of life for Airmen and their families under her command. She addressed communication gaps and worked towards improving standards of living. Notably, she played a pivotal role in organizing crucial diversity and inclusion events and curated a comprehensive wing community calendar, highlighting activities for Airmen and their families across the base. Additionally, she led efforts to increase commissary accessibility, introduce 24-hour dining options, and enhance indoor family recreation facilities. As a result of these initiatives and others during her tenure, she was awarded the Legion of Merit service medal prior to her departure to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

“Serving as the command for the 35th FW has been the greatest honor and privilege of my career,” expressed Blandburg. “During my tenure here, I have had the distinct privilege of serving with some of the most amazing, dedicated, and talented individuals in the United States Air Force. Together, we have faced challenges head-on, overcome obstacles, and achieved remarkable successes.”

Taking the colors from Chief Master Sgt. Cheronica Blandburg, Najera became the command chief of the 35th Fighter Wing, which provides worldwide deployable forces to protect U.S. interests in the Pacific and defends Japan with a sustained forward presence and focused mission support, directly enabling a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Najera embarked on his Air Force journey as a communications troop hailing from Bakersfield, California. Over the course of his career, he has held a diverse array of command leadership roles, including serving as a First Sergeant and as the Senior Enlisted Leader for the 51st Mission Support Group. Prior to his assignment at Misawa, he distinguished himself as the Senior Enlisted Leader for the 100th Communications Squadron at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England.

“Chief Blandburg, it’s been clear over the past few weeks how much you love this wing and its people,” said Najera. “Thank you for the care you have given them and the path you have set for me. It will be tough shoes to fill.”

“To the Airmen, families, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and Joint & Community partners, I am so excited to start this journey with you. … Attack to Defend!”