Welsh re­tires, says good­bye af­ter 40 years of ser­vice

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By BOBBY JONES Staff Pho­to­jour­nal­ist

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.

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