Proud to be an American Airman: AF chief of staff reflects on time as service chief, career Published July 31, 2012 By Master Sgt. Angelita Colón-Francia Air Force Public Affairs Agency WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz met with media July 24 in the Pentagon to share his thoughts about his nearly 40 years of military service in the Air Force and four years as the Air Force's senior uniformed leader. "When former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke at my Chief of Staff welcoming ceremony in August of 2008, he quipped that he and I had something in common, that both of us were planning to retire," Schwartz said. "Indeed when he asked me to continue to serve, those earlier retirement plans were put on hold. Today, however, I do plan to retire and am preparing to hang up my blue uniform for the final time." As the Air Force Chief of Staff, Schwartz has led approximately 680,000 active-duty, National Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the United States and around the world. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he functions as a military advisor to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and the President. Schwartz rose through the ranks as a special operations pilot who also succeeded in staff and joint assignments. He took the job as chief "at a particularly turbulent time in our Air Force," said Brig. Gen. Les A. Kodlick in his introduction of Schwartz to the media. However, Schwartz, together with Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, has had "a profound impact on the Air Force. "Quite frankly they have made the Air Force a better service and fighting force," Kodlick said. During his tenure, Schwartz introduced the phrase "All In" when he spoke to Airmen around the world about how the Air Force is a crucial part of the joint service team committed to winning today's fight. In addition, he implemented a series of programs designed to improve the quality of life, care and services for Airmen and their families. Despite the strides since 2008, Schwartz said he is leaving the position during another challenging period as the Air Force contends with fewer available resources, and an increasingly complex geopolitical and security environment. Nonetheless, Schwartz said he remains confident the Air Force will continue to thrive because of America's Airmen. "(Airmen) are talented," he said. "They are dedicated and they will handle today's challenges and tomorrow's contingencies in the manner that has earned America's and the Joint team's trust over the years. "Our Airmen have reinvigorated the nuclear enterprise, institutionalized remotely piloted aircraft capabilities into our service, strengthened our support and our care for one another and for our families, clearly demonstrated our committed to the joint fight and established a program of record for the long-range strike family of systems." A retirement ceremony for the general will be held August 10 at Joint Base Andrews. He concluded comments about his 40-year career of service saying, "As Suzie and I now prepare to enjoy life after this career of service, we feel truly privileged to have found a home in the United States Air Force, the greatest Air Force in the world. I will always be proud -- always be proud to consider myself an American Airman."