2009-2011 at AEDC…Our Family’s Best Ever

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Panarisi
Words just cannot describe our gratitude for what has become far and away the best two years in our Air Force journey. When we arrived, we had no idea what lied ahead: a totally new mission, a completely unfamiliar area, and more than a little apprehension.

At the same time, we were thrilled with the opportunity, excited about the possibilities, and eager to learn and experience everything that this assignment had to offer. Little did we know that in just 25 short months, we'd be saying "so long" to the "family" that took us in as one of their own, and showed us why AEDC is such a magical place. I truly mean it when I say that this job is absolutely the best job in the USAF. I'm still a little shocked that on Tuesday, our time with you will come to an end.

You all know I'm a huge fan of the capabilities here, the world-class equipment, the technology and the hands that put it all together. But what made this place special for us is the pride, the passion and the unending dedication that puts AEDC in a class all by itself.

When I took command, I mentioned that my philosophy was to "take care of the people, and they will take care of the mission." Little did I know just how well the people would take care of us. How much you would teach us about what it takes to keep America's airpower advantage; how vision, technology and perseverance can combine to make the seemingly impossible look routine; and how no matter how high the obstacle, this team will find a way to overcome it. It's been a truly humbling, and heartwarming experience.

We've been all over the world, moved 15 times and lived places that some have called "paradise." But for all our adventures, this one is the hardest to leave. The men and women of AEDC, and our "host communities," will hold the fondest spot in our memory. We will be forever indebted to how you welcomed us into the community, how you powered through adversity and how you banded together in our darkest hours. You have without question lived up to Gen. Hap Arnold's legacy, and through your efforts, we still have an Air Force "second to none."

One thing is for sure ... I am leaving you in exceedingly good hands. Your new Commander, Col. Mike Brewer, is a truly outstanding leader. I know ... we have flown together on countless missions and shared assignments at RAF Lakenheath, Edwards Air Force Base, Air Command and Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. We were at the Air Force Test Pilot School together, and I know firsthand that he will lead this team with passion, integrity, and a dedication to the mission that you will find absolutely refreshing. He's coming with his wife of more than 20 years, Debbie, and she is nothing short of a saint.

While I'm a little bummed our time here is coming to an end, I couldn't be happier about handing the keys over to Colonel Brewer. If I have to give up the flag on Tuesday, I will sleep very well knowing Colonel Brewer is on the receiving end.

I wish you all the very best as you continue to forge tomorrow's airpower. It has been a true honor to serve and lead this phenomenal team. Godspeed to you all, and I hope our paths will cross again.

"So long" team AEDC, and THANK YOU for the best two years ever!