• Published
  • AETC director of safety
On a majestically blue, warm, sunny San Antonio day Dec. 20, which was perfectly suited for golf despite being just one day shy of the official start of the winter season, I stood in front of more than 100 people at my retirement ceremony and found the ending bitter-sweet. I was excited about the new opportunities I face, but a little saddened to leave the Air Force, a service that has been so good to me.

So I faced my family, friends, co-workers and commanders, and referencing the inspirational song by the same title, I told them, "You raise me up."

Indeed, my entire career has been sprinkled with amazing people coming together to accomplish sometimes seemingly impossible goals. I am privileged to have been a part of such a dynamic team. Nowhere has that been more apparent than during my time as your Air Education and Training Command director of safety.

Each year during my tenure, we teamed up to set another standard in safety that had before seemed out of reach. Then, it all came together in 2010. We started out by notching the first summer in the command's history that not a single person lost his or her life to a mishap. Then came a record-setting year in flight, with AETC recording an outstanding mishap rate that was crucial to the Air Force achieving its greatest year ever in flying safety. Moreover, while a vehicle crash claimed one active-duty military off-duty death, we had zero on-duty fatalities the entire fiscal year.

And, finally, the most amazing feat of all ... as calendar year 2010 came to a close, we had gone more than a year without a mishap-related off-duty death.

Talk about finishing with a bang!

By sheer numbers, the odds are stacked against us. If AETC broke off and became its own entity, it would still be the fourth largest Air Force in the world.

But that's what is so remarkable about serving in this command and Air Force. We don't let the odds sway us. We roll up our sleeves and go to work trying to achieve what everybody says can't be done.

I am proud to have stood by you and witnessed this miracle we worked so hard to attain.

Without a doubt, you prosecuted the unthinkable ... by unleashing the unimaginable ... the talent of Air Force men and women.

That's why I can say with confidence to my replacement, Col. Creig Rice, as he takes the reins in February, that you can continue this positive trend and even surpass it.

Each and every day of my career, you raised me up! More importantly, however, together you raised, and will continue to raise AETC, the Air Force and the nation to the highest of levels.

For that, I personally and professionally thank you ... and bid you goodbye.