Former CC returns to celebrate KC-135s, Airmen

  • Published
  • By Ashley M. Wright
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Underneath the shadow of the first KC-135 Stratotanker to fly, and with the massive hangers for the future home of the KC-46 Pegasus on the horizon, retired Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz spoke to 250 Airmen, veterans and community members about the 60-year legacy of the Stratotanker, Aug 31.

“We were tremendously honored General Lorenz agreed to be our guest speaker,” said Col. Albert Miller, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “His vast experience, combined with a hugely successful Air Force career made him the perfect person to honor this key milestone for one of the most important weapon systems our Air Force has in its arsenal. He expertly explained how the KC-135 made us a global power, but more importantly that it was the generations of Airmen who through the past six decades leveraged, in his words, 'this old bird,' to achieve so much for our nation.”

Lorenz, who retired as the commander of Air Education and Training Command in 2011, and also served as the commander of the 22nd ARW in the early 1990s, said the privilege was all his.

“I was honored wing leadership would remember this retired pensioner who commanded the 22nd [Air Refueling Wing] 20 plus years ago,” the former KC-135 pilot said. “To interact and learn about the Airmen, and the transition from the KC-135 to KC-46, it is just phenomenal. The best part is I got to hang out with the people I love the most, Airmen in the United States Air Force.”

For Lorenz, returning to the wing he commanded and a base where his father served as the 381st Strategic Missile Wing vice commander brought a flood of memories ranging from holidays home with his family as a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet in the early 1970s to moving the colors of the 22nd ARW from Castle Air Force Base, California, to the Sunflower State in 1994.

“The base looks like a billion bucks,” he said in reference to the nearly billion dollar economic impact the base and KC-46 Pegasus construction projects have had on the local community in the past two years.  “McConnell is at an impressive pace with an impressive heritage, and it is going to have an impressive future. The KC-135 started a legacy. They are looking forward to the day when the KC-46 arrives and charts a whole history for air refueling and force projection.”

In addition to speaking at the KC-135 60th anniversary ceremony, Lorenz hosted two sessions of his “Lorenz on Leadership” seminar to Airmen of various ranks across the base.

“It felt very refreshing to hear a retired general be very honest about his experience in the Air Force,” said 1st Lt. Timothy Park, 22nd Contracting Squadron team lead who attended one of the events. “I think the nugget of knowledge I'll take along with me on my journey in the Air Force will be to stay motivated and persevere through the tough. It was very motivating.”

Before returning home to Colorado, Lorenz offered one more piece of advice to the men and women of Team McConnell.

“We are all in this as a team serving something greater than ourselves- serving our nation, our fellow Airmen,” he said. “It is all about forming a team where the color is blue and every person, regardless of rank, is a leader.”