Scott Air Force Base, Ill. --
126 ARW -
As most of you know, I was recently appointed by our Adjutant General to the position of Chief of the Joint Staff for the Illinois National Guard. This means a new location for me and a bittersweet farewell as your commander and member of this wing for over 30 years.
When you have the opportunity to command a wing, you see what it truly takes to complete the entire mission. You see the sacrifice and the patriotism of everyone. Because of your passion, our wing has always been highly successful and accomplished. One of the many reasons I remained with this wing for so many years...the 126 ARW never stays in a "comfort zone". We always get out of our confines and project our abilities on a global scale. We demonstrate to the world and the citizens of Illinois, our true lean-forward spirit of service.
I've enjoyed my time immensely, deploying and traveling with all of you, witnessing your specialties around the world. You enthusiastically perform your skills in a way that proudly represents the 126 ARW. You beautifully balance and blend military, civilian, and family commitments without pause displaying an immense amount of sacrifice seldom witnessed in society and you do it without question or expectation of any award other than the personal satisfaction that someone's burden will be eased in the end. You were about "service before self" before it became a core value. Struggles and successes come hand in hand but you learned to be "resilient" before it became ancillary training. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.
What does all that mean? Simple; there are no finer trained citizens in our nation than those who serve in uniform and I would add, as Air National Guardsmen, an even higher hybrid than that. You represent such a small percentage of this country. You do this part-time and when you all come to drill you give us everything you have. We got excellence before it became a core value. I see all of this, and the immense talent and professionalism you bring to execute our mission. You make it look so easy, and every time you are asked to step up in this "operational" Guard you do so, magnificently. In fact, I believe the Air Force Core Values were inspired by witnessing you all in action.
As this chapter closes, it will always be humbling to me to have served at this level. With the blessings I've been given, and I’d like to impart to you some of what I’ve learned. Every day you come to work, you are being interviewed for the next job. So, you do the best job in the job that you are in now. I guarantee you, every day somebody is looking at you and saying this person would be right for this task, this event, and this job or leadership position. Take notice of the people around you. People come into your life and make a difference. There are always people who will impact your life in ways you could never imagine. Sometimes they stay in your life forever, sometimes for one or two years, or sometimes they are just there for the right moment. They make an impact on you regardless whether you know or see it at the time. Life is a whirlwind; don't think you have it all figured out. A dose of humility goes a long way. It's a big world and there's a lot of opportunities to seek; where your talents are needed. Remove obstacles and those barriers that get in your way. Keep an eye out for opportunities that makes that difference for the future of our wing and service. What we can all do for others vs ourselves is a good motto to live by. Always, always keep an eye out for each other.
My family and this wing has always meant the world to me. When I step away in March, I’ll probably think about twenty different things that could have been said, but this has truly been an honor to have followed so many great leaders, mentors, and friends in this wing. It’s been a blessing and all the people and memories will be engraved in my heart. I will forever be thankful to you and my family for my time in the 126th and as your commander. Keep that tempo and continue to lead forward. The 126th Air Refueling Wing will forever put a mark on the map with its superb airmen and officers.
May God Bless you all!