Goodbye and thanks

  • Published
  • By Col. Chris Crawford
  • 21st Space Wing commander
As many of the wing's group and squadron commanders know, taking command of a unit is one of the most exciting moments in an officer's life. As a commander, you get the opportunity to enact leadership skills you've spent years learning, steer the direction of a unit, and set the example for a generation of future leaders to follow - often in a mission area near and dear to your heart. It's an awesome feeling and a rewarding responsibility.

The counterpoint to that, however, is that it's bittersweet to give up that command. I'll be the first to admit that I'm more than a little sad to be leaving the 21st Space Wing, but at the same time, I'm even more proud of what we've accomplished together over the last two years.

Since I returned to the wing in June 2011, we have cleared major hurdles and moved all elements of our operational and support missions forward. We did so with a clear set of wing priorities and objectives, and we did so with a sense of purpose. We've also nurtured a culture of innovation and discipline. We strive to be experts in our jobs and find ways to do our mission, our own portion of the high ground, better and smarter. We think critically about requirements and checklists, ensuring that we are not blindly complying with regulations, but doing the mission effectively and in the most responsible way. Even more, we revised our culture to drive home the reality that the 21st Space Wing is more than just Peterson Air Force Base. We encompass six installations, 40 units, and 34 locations spread around the globe. We are spread across 13 time zones and eight countries. We are one team with one vision: to dominate the high ground for America and its allies.

I have spent seven years of my career in the 21st Space Wing. As I come to my final days as its commander, I can honestly say that the Knights of the 21st Space Wing - military, civilians and contractors - are the most professional and dedicated people with whom I've ever worked. I am honored and humbled to have been your wing commander, and I hope that I'll get to work with some of you again in the future.

The power of a "thank you" is often underestimated - and I hope that all of the wing's Airmen (both current and future leaders) never forget to use it. It is a small gesture, but it communicates succinctly and sincerely that you acknowledge and appreciate another's efforts. William Willard (who established the Indiana School for the Deaf) came up with a simile that neatly puts it into perspective: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

I have thanked many of you for your outstanding work along the way, and I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you now. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for a job well done. I may be sad to be leaving, but I know that someday when I retire, while I'm sitting by a lake in Alabama fishing, I'll be able to look back on what we've accomplished with pride and a smile. Keep up the great work.