Retiring MSG commander leaves thanks, farewells

  • Published
  • By Col. Winona Cason
  • 459th Mission Support Group
As I retire from the military after 24 years of service, I would like to thank some special groups of people. 

For all the company grade officers and Airmen with whom I've had the pleasure to work, you exhibit the energy, enthusiasm and idealism we need for our future force. Thanks to all of you. I encourage you to continue in the Air Force; we need you! 

For the many talented NCOs with whom I've been privileged to work during my career, thank you. Our Airmen look to you as their immediate trainers, supervisors and leaders, so it's critical that we have this talented core of mid-level managers. It's an over-use phrase, but true; you are the backbone of the Air Force. 

Getting to the top of the NCO ranks is no easy task, and quite often it's made all the more difficult by the fact that you expected to train and mentor not only your Airmen and NCOs, but junior officers as well. I know that I have personally grabbed onto the coat tails of a senior master sergeant when I was a second lieutenant to learn my job, and have sought their council and guidance ever since. 

Thanks to all the chiefs and senior NCOs with whom I've worked over the years. I admire your tenacity and professionalism. I deeply respect your service, and I've been inspired by the warrior spirit that so many of you possess. 

I want all the civilians to know that your service is respected and valued, and that this Air Force certainly could not function without you. Many of you work right alongside us in the military, making the same sacrifices and working the same hours. Thank you for what you bring to the fight. 

Commanders and first sergeants, I want to say a special thank you to you. You are where the rubber meets the road, where so many hard decisions have to be made in terms of priorities and resources. You're often the ones trying to figure out creative solutions on how to get more done. Your folks look to you for leadership, mentorship, inspiration and explanation. You've got more on your plates than you'll ever get done. 

At the conclusion of your command or first sergeant-ship, you'll be spent - physically and emotionally, but you will have grown more as a person than probably ever would have without the experience. 

And while command is a privilege and its own reward, I want to say thank you to all the squadron, flight and group commanders and wing commanders, as well as first sergeants, with whom I currently serve and have served with in the past. 

Lastly, to the families, friends and other supporters who try to understand why we do this, hopefully you know it's because this is an important, rewarding mission that must be done, and we know that. We are very fortunate to have your support and love. 

In closing, many of you have asked if I'll be sad to leave the military, and certainly I will miss many things about it, most importantly, the people. But I'm very fortunate to have been offered a position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency that is going allow me to continue doing what I love to do, and that is build and lead teams in the accomplishment of an important mission. 

So I am proud to have served 24 years in the Air Force, but very excited to be moving on to the next challenge, the next chapter, and my guess is I will still be working very closely with the military and even many of you. I wish you all much success and happiness for the rest of your careers.