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Welsh Thanks Airmen for Honor of Leading Them

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2016 — Pride in service, pride in people and pride in family took center stage today at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III retired after more than 40 years of military service.

Welsh will be succeeded by Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein.

Noted for his support of airmen during his career, Welsh was no different during his last day in uniform.

He began his speech by thanking the airmen who put on the retirement ceremony in a hangar on the Andrews’ flightline.

“Ceremonies like this don’t just magically happen,” he said. “Somebody actually cleaned this floor. Somebody brought the bleachers in. Somebody flew the airplanes in, and parked them here. And those somebodies are all around the room somewhere. Somebody set the flags in place. Somebody hung that remarkable American flag. Somebody set up the communications system. Somebody set up the TV cameras and the feeds.

Great Airmen

“Airmen did that -- great airmen. And they do it all the time,” he said. “They never ask for recognition. They just like the fact that it goes well. You honor the Air Force by the way you do your job. Thank you for setting this up.”

The general thanked Defense Secretary Ash Carter for his efforts, noting the secretary’s job is a difficult one.

“You’ve been remarkable,” Welsh said to Carter. “We love your strength; we love the violence your sometimes bring to an argument. We love your righteous stands on important issues. Keep leading, sir. It’s an honor to follow you.”

The general also thanked the current Joint Chiefs Chairman, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, and his predecessor, retired Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

“Gentlemen, thank you for being the leaders we would all like to be, and for making everybody who wears a uniform proud of the most-senior military officer,” Welsh said. “It has been an honor to serve for both of you.”

Welch then spoke to the men and women of the Air Force at large.

“Thank you for making me proud each and every day to stand beside you,” he said. “And thanks for keeping me humble enough to try to be worthy of your trust.”

Airmen Critical to Warfighting Success

Welsh said airmen have been critical to the fight for the last 25 years.

“No one is more critical to warfighting success,” he said. “And no one is prouder to serve than an American airman. It has been the honor of my life to represent you. Thanks for standing the watch proudly. This may be the understatement of my life, but I’ll miss you.”

The general thanked his family and his son, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Welsh, who spoke during the ceremony.

While the ceremony marks the end of Welsh’s military career, the Air Force moves on, he said. He thanked his successor and said the Air Force is in good hands.

Welsh also thanked his wife, Betty, for 38 years of marriage and 23 military moves.

“She is the story of my life,” he said. “And I can’t wait to write the next chapter.”

The general and his wife have one more move. He will become the dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.

Welsh offered a parting thought for the ceremony’s audience.

“Airpower … because without it -- you lose,” he said.
Distribution channels: Military