IG offers advice on Air Force success

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As I look forward to Nov. 9 and my retirement ceremony, I look back at 20 very memorable years serving in the Air Force.

I've had many teachers, a small collection of very close friends and tons of memories that will stay with me longer than most of the "I love me wall" items received during my career.

I rarely felt joy when a teacher told me that my attitude or performance required improvement, especially when that correction was made with a kick in the pants. The best teachers throughout my career taught me through correction and encouragement and they passed that along to me.

"Correction does much, but encouragement does more," said the German philosopher Goethe.

Although I needed a kick in the shorts a few times in my career, I always needed to know the kicker believed I was capable of making the change.

So as I was taught, I now teach - correct the behavior, encourage the person, expect results.

As John Maxwell said, "Man does not live by bread alone; sometimes he needs a little buttering up."

We all need to establish bonds with our neighbors in base housing and our co-workers, as well as the local community. We make acquaintances, but many times we try not to get too close because of the sorrowful goodbyes we ultimately face when orders arrive. My wife and I dropped roots in every town we lived in: Great Falls, Knob Noster, Colorado Springs, Lompoc ...

We formed deep friendships with only a handful of folks, but they became our extended family across this nation.

Although we've had some tearful farewells, I learned that this kind of relationship is vital to all of us and I encourage you to reach out and get involved.

The rewards far outweigh the pain.

As my time in the Air Force draws to a close, I look back on some incredible memories and experiences that I may have missed otherwise. I saw a Peacekeeper re-entry at Kwajalein with eight re-entry vehicles. I watched a deep space sensor track and image a satellite. And I helped build and launch enormous rockets carrying nationally important satellites into space.

One of the most incredible memories I will leave with is this: I helped the 30th Space Wing out-perform it's own expectations in last year's Operational Readiness Inspection. With the help of four outstanding professionals - Maj. Chris Drap, retired Master Sgt. Sam Treat, Master Sgt. Angel Garcia and Tech. Sgt. Jeff Barry, along with a re-motivated and superbly talented Exercise Evaluation Team - we succeeded with exceptional results as a team.

Everyone who worked to prepare and perform back in December 2005 should feel a great sense of pride in that accomplishment.

I wish you all continued success in your careers. It has been my distinct pleasure to serve alongside you, get to know many of you better and to form friendships with some. You left a lasting impression on me.