Farewell my friends

  • Published
  • By Retired Command Chief Master Sgt. Merle Lyman
  • 932nd Airlift Wing
Well, I guess the time is here for me to say farewell,
depart the ranks, and hang up the uniform for the last time. 

I always knew this day would come, but
I guess I never fully prepared for it. I
have always enjoyed every opportunity
I had to wear the uniform, mainly because
I believe in everything it represents. 

Time has gone by so fast, as it
seems like yesterday when I saw my father
cry, which he didn't do very often,
in 1979 when I boarded the plane
headed to Lackland AFB. He must have
known there were people waiting at the
other end who took great pleasure at
yelling at me for six weeks. What a great
ride it has been since that day. 

As I type this, the memories just
keep coming out--some good, some not
so good--but all of them have been a
learning experience. At different times
in my career, I have been humbled,
praised, and even embarrassed. Fortunately
the praise outweighed the embarrassing
experiences, but I have never
ceased to be amazed and humbled by
what our Airmen can accomplish. 

I have met a lot of friends, from
the early years to the present, that remain
great friends today. I know the
most precious gift I will take away from
wearing the uniform are the relationships
that I have made over the years, none
more important than my wife. 

When you stop and think about the
people that make up the U.S. Air Force
to include the active, Reserve, Guard,
civilian, and contractors, it is pretty
amazing. We take people from multiple
backgrounds, different life styles, diverse
skills, and various cultures, and
throw them into one pot, melt them all together,
and become this well oiled machine that is the
most feared air power in the world. That is pretty

If I could zero in on the one thing the Air
Force has taught me, it would be that if you have
a positive attitude, and a good work ethic, the
Air Force has a way of taking care of you. Another
lesson I learned is if you surround yourself
with great people, who are usually smarter than
you, like I have been fortunate enough to do at
the 932nd AW and AMC, then they can pull you
along and achieve success together. 

The Air Force has taught me endless lessons,
but let me share a few others with you that
have paid off for me, although I wish I had learned
them earlier. 

First, do not try and control something that
is outside your control. You only cause yourself
grief, make the people around you miserable, and
take years off your life. 

Second, remove the emotion from the situation
before reacting. The old saying of count to
ten before you respond does have merit; although
sometimes it may require you to count to 100.
Just take the time you need to make sure your
emotions are in check before coming back to
address the issue at hand. 

Third, deal with facts from both sides of the
story before making a decision. A decision made
without all the facts usually comes back to bite

And fourth, keep a positive attitude and be
the best Airman you can be. Sure there will be
frustrating times, but get over it quickly and move
on to do your part to make a difference. 

Throughout my career, there have been different
results that gave me job satisfaction. As an
aircraft maintainer, it was always seeing the aircraft
take-off and knowing I had done everything
in my power to ensure it was safe. 

When I became the Command Chief, what
gave me job satisfaction was not quite so obvious.
I knew I had a blast doing it from Day 1,
but wasn't quite sure why. 

I soon realized it was right in front of me, it was
the airmen, officers, and enlisted that
counted on me to help them develop in
their careers and over some bumps in
the road that life had thrown at them. 

It was then I realized that I had the opportunity
to make a difference and take
some of life's stress away, so they could
go on doing what they do without distractions. 

Because I could not fix everything,
which was a tough lesson for
me to learn, I had to accept that if I
could make a positive difference in the
life of one young airman, that I would
be satisfied that I had a successful career.
I only hope I was able to achieve
that goal. I believe that if everyone of
us are able to achieve this very same
goal, and the next generation does the
same, then our future Airmen will grow
up in a better Air Force than I did. 

I have seen the Air Force change
dramatically over the years, but the constant
denominator that has always remained
is the support from our loved
ones. You have probably heard me say
this before: "it is the member that enlists,
but it is the family that serves." I
know for me, my family has been the
driving force behind me to continue, and
they were willing to make the sacrifices,
and juggle schedules to allow me to do
my part. 

As with all of your families, when
September 11 happened, my loved
ones all knew that the risk of war and
deployments had just increased significantly
overnight, but none of them
asked me to retire, in fact, they encouraged
me to stay on. 

I have the highest
admiration for those families that continue
to support their uniformed member
during one of the most turbulent
times in history. They all continue to
serve with us, and do their part to preserve
freedom. Please pass on my personal
gratitude for their unselfishness. 

I could go on forever, but I will
close with this. To all who have ever
worn the uniform of the U.S. military, I
sincerely thank you for your service. To
those who have influenced my career, I
thank you for helping me along the way.
To the men and women of the 932nd
AW, I thank you for allowing me to
serve as your Command Chief; you
have all touched my life in a way that
could never be expressed in words. 

And to my family and friends, thank you
from the bottom of my heart for the
privilege of allowing me to wear the
uniform of the greatest Air Force in the
world for the past 29 years. 

I bid you all a farewell and wish you peace and
happiness. God Bless America.