I am very proud of the fact that for the rest of my life I can say, “I was a Master Sergeant in the United Staes Air Force.” ~David Soto Jr
I retired from the military in Dec of 2015. Below is my retirement speech that I published as an article in our monthly newsletter rather than actually orate.
Well, folks, this is it. This is my last drill. For a year I have been thinking about what to say when I am brought up in front of you all and I have to say that, even though I relish every opportunity I get to speak in public, this one will just be too hard. You know that crack in a person’s voice you hear when they are asked to give their going away speech, well that won’t be me. I will flat out break down and will not be able to continue. So, with that being said, let’s save us all the embarrassment of me doing a Dick Vermeil and just read what I have to say below.
If you don’t love this job, quit.
I know this is bad for retention but let’s face it, you are not doing yourself or the unit any favors by staying in. I know, I know, you are only 10 years away from retirement! Not loving this job is just going to make you, your family, and your coworkers miserable. If I have learned anything in my 41 years on this earth, it is to do what you love. If more people in the world did this, the world would be a better place.
I spent many of my last years in this unit not loving this job and I’ll be the first to admit, it had a negative effect on my life as well negatively impacting the unit. Then I woke up one morning and realized I was going to be doing things for the last time in my life. For example, at the end of January’s drill this year it sunk in that, that was the last Saturday and Sunday in January that I would ever wear the uniform. These realizations have been going on for a year, last Annual Training, last family day, etc. A year ago I decided to make a change and that leads me to my next piece of advice.
Change the “got to’s” to the “get to’s.”
This is what I did last December. I went from “I got to go to drill” to “I get to go to drill” and it changed my perspective on my career in the Missouri Air National Guard. Knowing that every time I was in uniform marked that last time I would be in uniform for that particular event or time of year made me cherish every moment. It also made me regret not making this change earlier in my career.
Knowing I only had a year left, I wanted to make the biggest impact I could so I started writing the Pass Your PT Test articles and coming in early to speak to those in the Fitness Improvement program. I have to say it has been the best year of my career and I can honestly say that I have loved every moment of it.
I want to personally thank a few people who have made the BIGGEST impact on my career. I realize some of them may never see this and that you may not know who they are but I really feel I need to thank them. (Ranks reflect the time of impact.)
- Mr. Ray Stein for tolerating me as a teenage HVAC/R apprentice. Every dollar I ever made or will make in HVAC/R was, is, and will be because of him.
- A1C Chris Jones for not telling on me when I got drunk, broke into his dorm room, and punched him in the eye for something he didn’t do.
- MSgt Chris Mattingly for taking me into his shop and going up to bat for me many times.
- SMSgt Randy Beck for being the only person to ever put me in for an awards package.
- Lt. Col. Mitch Miller for just being him.
- TSgts Danylchuk and Rashad, who were both STEP promoted to MSgt, for accepting me as one of their own, a member of the 355th Security Forces Sq.
- All my 22nd CES brothers that I served with at my first duty station, March AFB, CA.
- And, of course, you and all the other members of the 239th Combat Communications Squadron.
Thank you for allowing me to serve with you.