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American Forces Press Service

Air Force Secretary Bids Farewell

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., June 20, 2008 – Outgoing Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne bade farewell today to the organization he’s directed since November 2005.

“I thank all of you for coming to wish me well,” Wynne said to an audience of Defense Department senior leaders and attending airmen at the Air Force Memorial here. “Because of all of you here today, my time spent was rich with accomplishments. There is no way to describe the transition to leading the best Air Force in the world. This service as secretary truly is the capstone moment.”

Wynne began his service to America’s armed forces at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., attaining a bachelor of science degree in general engineering in 1966. Shortly after his graduation, he switched branches and became an Air Force officer.

He served on active duty for seven years before working in various private-sector organizations. Wynne also served as the deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

During Wynne’s almost three years as the Air Force’s 21st secretary, he was responsible for the training and welfare of more than 700,000 airmen. He began initiatives to remedy the organization’s aging air and space fleet and laid the groundwork for the Air Force Cyber Command.

During Wynne’s farewell speech, he expressed his adoration for the organization he first became a part of more than 40 years ago. “This is the Air Force that I have come to know, to lead and to love,” he said. “But it is the people of the Air Force that make the Air Force, so in loving the Air Force, we love the people.”

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates applauded Wynne for his numerous accomplishments, which span from renewable energy to cyber security, but are too numerous to list, Gates said.

However, Gates praised one particular accomplishment: “a change in institutional culture that empowers airmen and women from the lowest ranks to the highest to challenge the status quo and to take responsibility for building a stronger Air Force,” he said.

Gates commended Wynne for taking responsibility for the service’s handling of its nuclear program, which led to his resignation. “Under [Wynne’s] watch, all airmen have been encouraged to introduce new ideas and better ways of doing business,” he said. “You have set an example for the airmen and women you have led. You have upheld the tradition of honor and the legacy of valor that characterize the Air Force.”

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