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News > Feature - Meet the vice commander: Col. Mark L. O'Laughlin
Vice Commander
Colonel Mark L. O'Laughlin, 325th Fighter Wing Vice Commander
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Meet the vice commander: Col. Mark L. O'Laughlin

Posted 1/14/2013   Updated 1/23/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Christopher Reel
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/14/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- From the largest combat wing in the U.S. Air Force, 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan to the white beaches of the Emerald Coast, Col. Mark L. O'Laughlin, 325th Fighter Wing vice commander, has already began to adjust to his new mission.

"The past 21 years of my career has mainly been focused on operations," said Colonel O'Laughlin. "This assignment is a unique opportunity for me to be involved with maintenance, medical, and mission support. I can't wait to get out of the office to meet and learn from as many people as possible. I look forward to supporting Team Tyndall's Airmen and the wing commander."

He and his family were assigned here from August 2000 to May 2002, while he was an instructor in the 95th Fighter Squadron. They were also assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., from Nov. 2006 to June 2010.

"The Panama City area is a wonderful community with phenomenal involvement; the local community provides outstanding support to the military and its families," the colonel said. "My wife, girls and I are extremely excited to be back in the area. North Florida has become our home."

Colonel O'Laughlin also explained that this is a great area to take advantage of his favorite hobbies, fishing and golfing.

"I'm glad I decided to pursue a career, not just because of the benefits, the opportunity for travel, or the flying career, but mainly because of all the people I have been able to meet," said Colonel O'Laughlin. "I've made hundreds of great friends and life-long contacts. It is definitely the most rewarding aspect of my time in service."

Another rewarding experience in his career has been flying.

"Flying is a ton of fun," said the colonel. "For me it equates best to playing sports. I love the competition of the fight. You're really part of a big team, and at the end of the day, we gather up to evaluate how we did. We always look for ways to improve individually and as a team."

He's always had an interest in flying and in the military, he explained, but didn't decide to join the Air Force until he began attending college at San Diego State University, Calif. After seeing other Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets on campus and learning more about the Air Force and the commissioning program, he decided to join.

"I never really planned on making a career out of the Air Force until around 2001," said the colonel. "It was around my 11-year mark. My wife and I were beginning to have a family and the events on Sept. 11 happened. We decided then to make a career in the service."

Early in his career, when he was an F-15 Eagle instructor pilot he was recognized for being a positive influence.

"I received the 48th Fighter Wing Wingman of the Year Award in 1998," said Colonel O'Laughlin. "I didn't realize there was an award for wingmen. I just tried to do the best job that I could. It was rewarding to be recognized by my mentors and I was extremely proud."

When overcoming challenges Airmen may face during their career, one can always find a way to make the best of the situation, explained the colonel.

"Though it's cliché, I believe it holds true, the best job you have is the one you are currently in," he added. "Even if your job isn't the biggest or best job in the organization, you can make a huge difference, hard work and excellence never goes unnoticed. Your outstanding performance will always lead to more opportunities and rewarding ways to serve."

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