Tyndall vice commander bids farewell|
Posted 6/29/2012 Updated 6/29/2012
by Senior Airman Rachelle Elsea
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/29/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1993 and completing nearly 19 years of military service has been no easy feat. But, leaving Tyndall behind may be one of the hardest things he has had to do.
"Tyndall has been one of my favorite assignments," said Col. Orlando Sanchez, 325th Fighter Wing vice commander. "This was my third time here, so it feels like home."
Colonel Sanchez and his wife have five children, two of which were born at Tyndall.
"We have a lot of friends in the area, both military and civilian, and I have really enjoyed Panama City and Bay County," said Colonel Sanchez. "My family is excited about the new opportunities that await them, but they go with a few tears in their eyes."
Colonel Sanchez, his wife and four daughters will accompany him on the upcoming assignment. His oldest child, and only son, recently enlisted into the Air Force and is currently training at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
"We have been reassigned to the Pentagon," Colonel Sanchez said. "I will be working on the Joint Staff; specifically on anti-terrorism, homeland defense and support to civilian authorities. It is a much different mission then we have here at Tyndall, so I am looking forward to learning and hopefully, contributing what I have learned so far."
He is aware of the many changes he will have to overcome during the transition, but has high hopes for the future.
"Living in D.C. has its challenges," he said. "If you talk to anyone that is there, you will know that it is a major city and the traffic and pace of life there is a bit frantic. So, I plan to do my best to control our schedule and allow enough down time to take advantage of all that D.C. has to offer on the positive side."
Colonel Sanchez said he has already found their new home and is excited about this next assignment.
"We are looking forward to taking in all the history, the cultural activities and learning more about our country," said Colonel Sanchez. "I think we will be able to overcome the frantic state through a steady course of education and taking advantage of the sights and sounds."
Although the move comes with its perks, it will be bitter sweet.
"As I was packing up, I found a stack of programs and itineraries," Colonel Sanchez said. "You really can't believe how many great things Airmen and their families do around here. As I looked through the pile of graduations, NCO inductions, promotions and what not, I felt honored to have had the chance to get to share in all those great memories and interact with the Airmen and their families."
Colonel Sanchez also said, while at Tyndall, he has really enjoyed being around all the great successes.
"Whether it was on the flight line side, where our operators and maintainers have made some great improvements on the F-22 [Raptor], and getting to fly, or whether it is on the mission support group or the medical group side; the way we have done our compliance inspection or built a healthy community and population," he said. "Tyndall is a healthy place to live and work because the groups and the folks that are in the groups and support agencies do their best everyday to make it happen. It has been a pleasure to be a part of that."
He said he is sure he has taken away much more than he has given.
"Most of us are pretty functionally driven as we come up through the Air Force," he said. "You may know what is going on in your area and a little bit outside of that, but as the vice commander you get the opportunity to get to know the details of what everybody in a wing does. I have learned a tremendous amount."
He has also been honored to spread the base's success with the community surrounding the installation.
"Being in this role, I have had the privilege to represent all the Airmen by getting to know our downtown supporters," said Colonel Sanchez. "It has been really humbling to see how much our civilian population here appreciates the U.S. Air Force and Tyndall Air Force Base. I have been really fortunate to be involved and see those interactions."
As Colonel Sanchez departs he knows he has left the base in good hands and he is confident the upcoming transition to a different major command will run smoothly.
"I think we are well postured to go to Air Combat Command," Colonel Sanchez said. "There has been a lot of hard work across the base. I think we could transition tomorrow and we would be ready to go. There is also a lot of great leadership from the group down to the squadron levels. I am only sorry that I won't be around here to see the actual execution, but I'm confident that the base is ready to accept that change and move into the next era here."
He said he has one final thought he would like to convey to Team Tyndall.
"I get to speak to many Airmen on the base and I have heard as much advice as I have given," said Colonel Sanchez. "Stealing a bit of sage wisdom, I believe you need to begin with the end in mind. If you think about where you would like to be, what you would like your life to look like, and the kind of person you would like to be, up front, then you can make a commitment to yourselves and the people in your lives that are important. If you live by those commitments and the values that get you there, you are going to be a very successful person. Successful people make great Airman."
He only has one regret.
"I wish I had had the opportunity to shake every one's hands," he added. "From myself, my wife and my kids, it has been both a personal and professional privilege to get to work with all the folks that make up Team Tyndall. We are really thankful for this opportunity and very appreciative of how Tyndall has embraced us and has allowed us to be a part of its long-standing history."