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  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee
  • Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command


Heroes of the Air Force Reserve,

Next month, I will relinquish command, surrounded by my colleagues, friends and family. Before I leave, I want to take a few moments to share some parting words. First and foremost, I cannot express my gratitude for being able to serve as your commander for the last four years.

Since 2018, we have faced every challenge imaginable from the war in Ukraine, to the evacuation and resettlement of vulnerable allies from Afghanistan, to a global pandemic, to record hurricane and wildfire seasons, to civil unrest at home.

During each of these crises, the sound of our boots hitting the ground and racing to clear obstacles to meet those challenges has been the sound of hope for those at home and abroad.

I would not have made it one minute in this job without every single Reserve Citizen Airman’s contributions. When I left active duty after 14 years, my new Reserve unit felt like home. It was not just changing patches, it was also changing perspectives. Each of you contributes to a culture of selflessness, inclusivity and volunteerism that makes what we do possible on a daily basis. That same culture has kept me in for more than 22 years.

I am also grateful for having two exceptional command chiefs during my tenure, Chief Master Sgt. (retired) Ericka Kelly and Chief Master Sgt. Tim White. Both were exceptional wingmen and provided relentless advocacy for our enlisted Airmen, who comprise more than 70% of our force.

They were integral in finding the resources to ensure we could take care of Airmen at our units with religious support teams at every one of our host bases and full-time first sergeants at each of our wings.

Finally, I could not have done this without the understanding and support of my wife, Janis. For the last six years, she has served as the command spouse, working tirelessly to ensure our Key Spouse Program met the unique needs of Reserve Citizen Airmen and their families. She balanced these duties with parenting, my frequent travel and volunteering to help military families within the National Capital Region with uncanny grace.

I would like to share a few insights from the long arc of my career. The first is the importance of trust. Trust is the currency in which we operate. Leaders who can build trust within their units and across teams are able to navigate through the most ambiguous situations. Building trust on the defensive, after a crisis has occurred, is an uphill battle. Instead, as leaders, we must continually commit to building trust by demonstrating care.

The second is to make time for what is important. “Service before self” does not require us to permanently subordinate our family’s interests to those of the Air Force. Instead, it means that we never put our own career ambitions ahead of what’s best for our Airmen and our families. Each of us should strive to leave our time in service with strong ties with our families and those with whom we served.

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”
Napoleon Bonaporte

The third lesson is the power of hope. While we often say hope is not a strategy, it is a key element of resilience. Hope is a belief in the power of possibility. My father instilled that in me from a young age. He started out as an enlisted maintainer. He worked harder than anyone I know, got an engineering degree, commissioned and became a pilot, then an astronaut. 

Our nation was founded on hope like his. As your commander, I tried to institutionalize hope by focusing on getting resources to improve your quality of life. I also focused intensely on diversity and inclusion because I wanted every Reserve Citizen Airman to know their potential could be realized through hard work, no matter who they were.

As I leave, I will miss three things about the Air Force Reserve more than anything. The first is our team. Together, we faced historic challenges and, frankly made history.

Early in the pandemic, you were on the ground in New York taking care of Americans and shoring up regional healthcare systems within 24 hours. You volunteered in waves to help rescue our allies in Afghanistan, rescuing people within the first 24 hours. More than 500 of you spent your holidays with newly evacuated Afghans as a part of Task Forces Holloman and Liberty.

In the face of every challenge, you responded with professionalism, resilience and compassion. My biggest regret over the last four years has been not being able to visit each of your units to thank you in person.

Secondly, I will miss our culture. I’ve already touched on how grateful I am for having every unit embrace me and my family throughout my time in the Air Force Reserve. I am also in awe of our culture of service. So many of you bring incredible talent from your civilian careers in industry, nonprofits, the public sector and academia. Each of those unique skillsets is invaluable to helping us prevail in strategic competition. Our culture is one of our greatest strengths and we should take great care to preserve it.

Finally, I will miss the mission. For me, there is no higher calling than to defend our nation and its people. The mission can take many forms: fighting wildfires, combatting violent extremist organizations overseas, providing medical care during a pandemic, contributing to the nuclear deterrence enterprise or training to meet pacing threats. Each of these is an important component to taking care of Americans, and when necessary using force to defend them.

In closing, I hope my legacy is a simple one: the lives of each Reserve Citizen Airman are better off than they were before I took command. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve alongside each of you. Thank you for making even the hardest days worthwhile.