55th Operations Group welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Chad Watkins

The 55th Operations Group held a change of command ceremony July 1, 2024, at Offutt
Air Force Base.

Col. John “Ballgame” Isacco assumed command and Col. Derek “Bull” Rachel relinquished command in a ceremony officiated by Col. Mark Howard, 55th Wing commander.

“We are expecting a lot out of you and we know we can get a lot from you because of
who you are and the character that you have,” said Howard. “I can’t wait for what
Ballgame has got for us, he’s going to be a fantastic leader.”

Isacco previously served in various assignments on the Joint Staff. Prior to taking
command, he was Reconnaissance Operations Division Chief to the Deputy Chief of
Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Operations. Prior to this, he
served a three-year AETC assignment as an academic instructor in the Department of
Leader and Research Development at Air University's Air Command and Staff College
where he directed ACSC’s Leadership in Command elective and taught core courses
focusing on leadership and military strategy. Following his instructor tour, he graduated
from the US Air Force’s Air War College.

“Our family is excited to be back in Omaha, Nebraska.  The elite performance at which
the 55th Operations Group operates around the world is only possible via its incredibly
talented Airmen.  We're extremely grateful for this opportunity and proud to be part of
such an amazing team,” said Isacco.

Isacco hails from Greenville, Pennsylvania and received his commission from the United
States Air Force Academy in 2001. He is a Command Pilot with more than 3,500 hours
in E-3, RC-135 and trainer aircraft, including over 900 combat hours during Operations

“To our Airmen, know that you are at the forefront of my mind always,” said Isacco. “I
see your talent and honestly, I am in awe of it. And as we put the Wing’s vision into
execution, the entire Air Force will see your talent as well.”

The 55th OG operates five C-135 variants and executes global airborne intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as treaty verification missions. It is the largest
operations group in the Air Force with 11 squadrons and two detachments around the

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as the 55th Operations Group
Commander,” said Rachel. “The exceptional Airmen in this group are critical to
defending freedom, and I am thankful to have served alongside these true American
heroes. The local community is world class and supports our military better than any
other community I have served in. This position culminates a 28-year career. It has been
an amazing journey for me and my family.”

Rachel will retire on November 1, 2024.

“Bull was custom made for this job,” said Howard. “We are so grateful to you and thank
you for your over 28 years of service.”