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Farewell and thanks for the memories!

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since I first took command, and with Polly by my side, children who were willing to support their parents in this job, and many friends and supportive teammates, our time here is about to end.

Sure, we're exhausted, but believe it or not, that was always the plan from Day 1! When I first took command I shared with my subordinate leaders that these opportunities for command are a privilege--and are such a fleeting moment in time, that we must agree to give it our all and leave nothing on the table!

My philosophy is that if we're not exhausted by the time our command is done, then we're probably not appreciating or understanding what our responsibilities are. I want us all to be able to leave command positions with no regrets or unfinished work. Commanders affect the lives of so many and the time we take to ensure they are taken care of, are hours well spent. Thank you, to all my commanders, 1st Sgts, superintendents, supervisors, and my staff for never letting up--this wing is successful because of you, the standards you set and uphold, the Airmen you lead, and quality creative work you produce.

You have been the most incredible team, and I cannot thank you enough--Polly and I cannot thank you enough for your generous support and genuine friendships. As we reflected on our time here, in addition to our leadership lessons learned, the greatest gift that we take away are the relationships that we formed through these past two years.

We came here knowing that is was a great place to live and work because of our earlier assignment in 2003. We were not disappointed as we worked--and played--together to build the wing and relationships both inside the gates and outside as well. The teamwork and support from tenants has been outstanding as they allowed the "Help From Above" wing to enable their combat power. I want to particularly thank the 18 AF, AMC, and USTRANSCOM leaders and their staffs for their cooperation in helping make the 375th "showcase." I also want to thank my 932 AW and 126 ARW partners for putting Scott on the map as AMC's showcase TFI base--there is no limit to what you can do with partners who genuinely trust, respect, and believe in each other.

There could also not be a more positive and giving community that the Greater Scott Community that surrounds us! We are so blessed to be part of it and to reap the benefits of their generosity and warm spirit. Not everyone is so lucky! That is a large part of why this base functions so well--because we have great partners everywhere we turn--we thank them for their undying support of our base.

While I felt prepared to lead this wing after serving two years as the 62 AW vice wing commander, I must admit that when I took the guide-on from Gen. Allardice and saluted 'Sir, I assume command!" an immense rush of responsibility overcame me as I contemplated what had just happened. But, that was just a moment. I said I just needed to muster up to the challenge and use my skills and all would be well. Each day has brought its own unique challenges, and I feel like we've been through and persevered through so many events, which makes it all the more difficult to leave because of the bond Polly and I created with so many of you.

It's through these struggles that we forge ties that last a lifetime. When you go through difficult or challenging times, it does bring you closer together if everyone is all in. I'm so thankful to my family who were all in, and who buoyed me through this command tour. Polly has been the most amazing wife, mother, friend and help meet to me, and I could not have had this balance in my life were it not for her quite strength and resilience and common sense when some of my ideas got out ahead of me. She made her own meaningful contributions to this base through her OSC leadership and charity work as well as with her continuous A&FRC involvement to make sure our Airmen and their families received the support they needed. I owe her everything. To us "All In" is not just a catch phrase--it's a way of life.

Through all of this we have always felt the strength and companionship of many friends--we were never alone. We worked through all our challenges together, and you supported the ideas and programs necessary for mission success and worked just as hard--if not harder--to keep up with the various demands of that mission.

I've always felt that it is best to command with positive reinforcements and the aphorism of "a rising tide lifts all boats" I feel makes sense when applied to the idea of we're all working to lift each other to get the mission accomplished. To do that though requires that we make those connections in our lives--whether it's participating in First Friday, or creating new teams to solve a problem, or staying in contact with peers--it all involves personal effort and participation.

I've always said a leader's job is to provide a positive working atmosphere and the resources to get the job done, and then to stand back and watch the natural initiative of their people take over. We have wonderful people who joined the Air Force because they wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves. They give dedicated service each day and when you--as a commander--can affect positive things in their lives, you forget the idea that you're going on 18 straight hours of work, but it's seeing the results of those successes in people's lives that make all the difference.

Since we've been here, we've made so many friends, and we have a lot of great memories. We've laughed and shared good fortunes with many of you, and we've stood by each other's side during tragic event and responses to crises events. Through it all, we will remember your service to the Team Scott community and your service to our great nation.

In my Air Force Academy graduation ring, I inscribed "With God, Family, & Friends" to remind me of that which guides me and of the order of priorities I prescribe for myself. I can say that as I bid you all farewell and as Polly and I head into the retired life, we have felt a current of strength in our faith, family and teammates, and for that we thank you! Thanks for the memories and we wish you all the best as we enter the next chapter of our lives here in the local area.

We have been privileged to serve our great nation in this capacity and hope to continue to serve her in our civilian spheres. It's been an absolutely great adventure, but we know that you will continue Outshining, Outserving and Outperforming in all that you do and we will never forget your 3-7-5...Showcase Pride!!!