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Chris’ Change of Command Speech 21 June 2010

June 21, 2010

 Good morning Colonel Burns and Karen, Chief McLeod, Chief Stippel, Group Commanders, Squadron Commanders, family, friends and fellow Airmen, and of course, the men and women of the 86 MUNS.  Thank you for coming here today to take part in this ceremony.  At the practice last week, our super Protocol person, Maxine, reminded me that my speech should be 3.5 to 5 minutes, but she neglected the fact that I was the commander here for a rare 3 years, so I actually get 33% more time than the typical commander.  That means that all of you get 33% more speech for free.  Actually, the good news is that I promised the folks in formation this morning (by the way, you are all looking sharp…I just thought I’d sneak that in there for you) that I would keep it short, so I will stick to my promise.

As I started thinking about this time and this speech a lot of things went through my mind about what to say.  Interestingly enough, as often happens in these situations, the best thing I thought of to say is actually something that someone else said a long time ago.  About 2000 years ago there was this really smart guy named Paul, some of you may know him as Saint Paul or the Apostle Paul, who ended up writing about half of what we know of today as the New Testament.  Unlike in America where we have freedom of religion, Paul got beat down a lot and eventually killed for being a follower of Jesus Christ.  Once when he was in a Roman prison he wrote a letter where he said, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”  Now don’t miss my point, I’m not comparing my time being a commander to being in prison.  All I’m saying is that for anything that I have done well, or been successful in, it is because of Him. 

As far as people who deserve thanks, they are many.  First I would like to thank Captain Stover, SMSgt Velasquez, MSgt Littlefield, MSgt Allen, TSgt Hose, SSgt Sweebe and the many others who helped put this together.  Many of our Airmen who won’t get a lot of limelight were out here pulling weeds, washing static displays and setting up chairs and all of them deserve many thanks.  I had two big goals for this change of command, one of them was to have a professional event that demonstrated the pride and excellence of this unit and its people.  I believe that one has already been accomplished, so thanks to all of you.  The second goal is for me to not cry like a little girl.  So, if you see any tears, I’d just like to say up front that those are manly tears.  I have already warned my family that I will not be talking about them much so as to aid me in completion of the second goal. 

Thank you to Brigadier General Dillon and of course a special thanks to my group commander Colonel Burns for allowing me to have this opportunity.  Sir, I would like to publicly thank you for the mentoring, pushing, accountability, and sometimes “tough love” you provided.  You helped me grow as a person and made it possible for this squadron to have the successes that we have had.  I would also like to thank Mrs. Karen Burns for your support and kindness, especially for the unending stream of “former athletes” that our squadron has sent to Physical Therapy over the last 2 years. 

For my wife, Melissa and children Sarah, Ian, Hannah and Abigail.  I would simply like to say thank-you for sharing this adventure with me.

To my Pastor, David Ball and his wife Lt Col (retired) Peggy Ball, thank you for your support, friendship and mentoring on the spiritual front.  Peggy, your friendship and support as well as the support of Melissa’s good friend Kelly Boyer have provided the family that Melissa and the kids needed while I was at work so much and the Boyer children have been great friends for our children.  You will be sorely missed.

Squadron commanders, many of you have been great role models and mentors for me on a personal level and I really appreciate it.  Thank you all for your help, support and friendship.

To the amazing AMMO warriors of the 86th Munitions Squadron, of course my final and special thanks have to go to you.  To my incredible group of officers I am proud of all of you and your hard work and dedication.  You are all first class officers and people.  To my first sergeants:  thanks for your enduring vigilance and professionalism.  I appreciate your counsel and for being great Wingmen.  To My superstar Senior NCO leadership circle:  thank you for your wise counsel, your dedication, your integrity and for carrying out my orders as if they were your own.  Your leadership made this squadron successful.  To the NCOs:  thanks for overseeing the day to day work and for growing our Airmen.  Your tactical and practical, day to day leadership kept us compliant and made the mission go.  To the Airmen:  always remember that what you do is important and you are important, so thanks for your service and hard work every day.  Of course I can’t leave out our one civilian, Ms. Zita Krebs, my secretary and our administrative pro.  Thanks for your hard work, continuity, flexibility and dedication.  You are a key part to making our squadron run so well.

My closing thoughts go to Major Ken Benton, his wife Tobi and their children Emily, Thomas, Benjamin and Samuel.  I would like to welcome you all to the AMMO family.  We haven’t had very much time to spend together, but in the time we did I realized how much we have in common and I already consider you to be good friends.  I had heard that its difficult for a commander to turn the reigns over to another person, and after 3 years I would say that would probably be true for me except that I believe I’m turning over this squadron to the right person, at the right time who has the right talents, the right mindset and the leadership to lead this unit to new heights.  My best to all of you as you start this new chapter.

Once again, thank you all for coming today.  It means a lot to me, my family and the squadron for all of you to be here.  God bless you and have a great Air Force day.

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