In formal ceremonies July 13, Warwick’s Col. Edward Corcoran assumed command of the 1st Operations Group at the Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. Corcoran, who enlisted in the Air Force at 18, said he didn’t envision his current military career all those years ago.
It was immediately after graduating from Pilgrim High School that Corcoran enlisted. Now, nearly 30 years later, Corcoran is in command of “America’s First Team.”
Corcoran, age 48, said he joined the Air Force because he wanted to serve his country and get an education.
“But I just took to the military,” he said. “I’ve been really fortunate to have the support of my family and my superiors.”
The son of Frederick and Nancy Corcoran, Col. Corcoran was initially assigned to the 308th Strategic Missile Wing in 1983 as an instructor missile system analyst technician on a Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Crew.
“He was always on the fast track,” says his mother, Nancy. She said after serving in a missile silo, her son knew what he wanted to do and that was to fly airplanes. He set his sights on that goal and went for it.
As a staff sergeant, he earned a pilot scholarship through the Airman Scholarship Commissioning Program and was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Program at the University of Central Florida in 1989. He graduated pilot training two years later from Vance AFB in Okalahoma, and attended the F-15C basic course at Tyndall AFB in Florida.
In 1992, he joined the 27th Fighter Squadron and served as the Electric Combat Pilot, was a member of the 1994 William Tell Team and flew 50 combat missions over Iraq during Operation Southern Watch.
“It was a big deal,” said Corcoran. “There were very few positions being offered. I was very excited and looked forward to the challenge.”
In 1996, he was assigned the 44th Fighter Squadron and served as Flight Commander and Flight Evaluator. Two years later, Corcoran graduated from the USA Weapons School and went on to the 60th Fighter Squadron to serve as the weapons officer and assistant director of operations.
By 2001, he was assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron as the chief of F-15C Test and flew 10 combat missions over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch. In 2003, he was assigned to the Pentagon as the chief of international advanced system. Three years later, he was assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing and served as chief of wing safety, 71st Fighter Squadron operations officer and commander, and 1st Operations Group deputy commander. By 2011, he was assigned to Air Combat Command and served as chief of the Air Superiority Core Function Team and was responsible for requirements, programming and planning during a 20-year horizon.
Corcoran said his new job as commander of the 1st Operations Group job is to ensure that pilots are combat-ready.
“Our motto is, ‘Precise, reliable air power. Anytime, anywhere,’” he said. “I make sure we’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
In all, Corcoran is a command pilot with more than 2,800 hours, including 185 combat hours in the F-15C, and has flown the T-37, T-38, F-15A/B/C/D and the F-22. His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters; the Air Medal with oak leaf cluster; the Aerial Achievement Medal with two oak clusters; the Joint Service Commendation Medal; the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters; and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
In addition to being a Pilgrim graduate, he also earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology at the University of Central Florida in 1989, plus a Masters of Aeronautical Science Degree from Embry-Riddle University, also in Florida, in 2003, as well as a Masters of Strategic Studies from the Air War College in Alabama in 2010. He is a graduate of the USAF Weapons School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College as well.
Corcoran’s mother said that her son was on the “fast track,” but Corcoran gives the credit to “work ethic, support of my family, hard work and timing.”
“I attribute it to my upbringing,” he said. “And the support of my wife and kids.”
Corcoran’s wife, Judy, has been by his side since their school years together at Aldrich. The pair was voted “Class Couple” at Pilgrim High School, and they have been together since their youth. When on leave from his assignment in Little Rock, Ark., in 1984, Corocran proposed to Judy. The proposal happened on a Wednesday, and since they were on a tight schedule, the wedding was held the following Sunday.
“I went back to Little Rock on Tuesday,” said Corcoran.
Judy transferred from Rhode Island College to the University of Arkansas to be closer to her husband.
The pair has two children, Steven and Sean. Corcoran hasn’t lived in Warwick since he enlisted at age 18, but has been stationed in places like Florida, New Mexico, Las Vegas, Oklahoma and Japan. He said he is grateful that his family has been so willing to pick up and move every couple of years, and is also thankful to those family members still in Rhode Island for their unending support.