Welsh retires, says goodbye after 40 years of service
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III officially retired after more than 40 years of distinguished service during ceremonies held in his honor among family, friends and several high-ranking joint service military officials on Joint Base Andrews June 24.
A member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Air Force’s 20th senior uniformed leader was honored with the presence of Secretary of Defense Aston B. Carter, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., USMC and Gen. Welsh’s son, 1st Lt. Matthew J. Welsh, USMC.
During opening remarks, Secretary Carter praised Welsh’s dedication to service, family and the Department of Defense.
“He has enabled our Air Force to thrive over these last four years. He’s made the Air Force more responsive toward our wartime needs; providing rapid support to our war fighters,” Carter said. “Most of us in this hangar will be long gone before the full story of (what) Mark achieved for our security is told, but this we do know. Ever since Mark’s tour at the Agency, he’s put the art of the possible at the center of answering every challenge. Each of us here and citizens across this nation are indebted to Mark.”
Noted for his love of Airmen, Welsh began his opening remarks by thanking the Airmen
behind the scene for setting up his retirement ceremony – saying ceremonies like his retirement don’t just magically happen. Welsh thanked each Airman that brought in the bleachers, the airplanes and those who even swept the floor.
During the closing moments, Welsh was honored by remarks from his son, Matthew Welsh, who shared intimate details from the lives of his mother, father and siblings and Air Force family.
Matthew Welsh gave a loving roast about his family’s unity and shared his father’s intimate lessons about leadership and manhood.
“When Dad received a phone call from an officer informing him that an Air Force cadet had been killed in a car accident he answered stoical- ly. I couldn’t see him, but he may have shed a few tears,” Matthew Welsh said. “Years later, I often wondered why Dad was so upset about a kid that he didn’t even know. I figured it out that it didn’t matter if he knew him or not, it was one of his cadets. It was one of you guys. Dad cared deeply about this guy, as if he were me.”
Matthew Welsh ended his story on note about leadership and integrity, values his father used to raise him and his siblings – even mentioning a memorable pee wee football moment with his father.
Afterwards, Welsh trailed his son to center stage of the hangar, giving his son the honor of officially retiring him from duty.
Welsh thanked his official party for their leadership and support throughout his tenure as Air Force Chief of Staff.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair- man Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford presented Welsh with the Defense Distinguished Service Award during the ceremony. Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein will succeed him.
Welsh will serve as the dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
In his concluding statement, Welsh choked back tears, delivering a final sentiment to his fellow Airmen in the hangar and around the world.
“Thank you for making me proud each and every day to stand beside you. And thanks for keeping me humble enough to try to be worthy of your trust,” Welsh said. “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.”
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III is retired by his son, U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Welsh.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III thanks his family during his retirement ceremony at JBA June 24.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III has a moment with his mother following his retirement ceremony.
From left to right: Ash Carter, Secretary of Defense, Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff and Marine 1st Lt. John Welsh stand for the presenting of the colors.
Gen. Mark A. Welsh, III, Air Force Chief of Staff and his son, 1st Lt. Matthew J. Welsh, USMC, stand side-by-side moments after Matthew Welsh officially retired his father from active duty.
Betty Welsh (center) receives flowers during her husband, Mark A. Welsh’s, retirement ceremony June 24.