Gen. Goldfein reunites with pararescueman before Spaatz Association keynote

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Morgan Torp-Pedersen
  • Civil Air Patrol (U.S. Air Force Auxiliary)

Civil Air Patrol members gathered from across the country March 2 for the 17th annual Spaatz Association Mid-Winter Dinner and Awards Gala in Arlington, Virginia. 

While there, Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, received an unexpected surprise when U.S. Army Maj. Lee Chase talked about the importance of relationships. 

“I met Gen. Goldfein several years ago at a retirement ceremony he initiated for a good friend of mine. This friend of mine was in Civil Air Patrol as a cadet, and graduated from Civil Air Patrol’s pararescue orientation course about the same time frame that I did. This friend went on to rescue Gen. Goldfein in 1999 in Serbia. He then went on to become a pararescue chief and was the first PJOC graduate to become a pararescue chief,” said Chase. 

As he was speaking on the importance of relationships, retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeremy Hardy walked towards the stage to once again reunite with Gen. Goldfein before the general gave his keynote address.

“I’ve been the Chief for about two and a half years and this is the best surprise I have ever had,” said Goldfein.

“Under the steadfast leadership of [Civil Air Patrol] Maj. Gen. Smith and Chief Dandridge, this all-star team takes young men and women from diverse upbringings and prepares them to live and learn and lead as the eyes of the home skies,” said Goldfein. “The Civil Air Patrol mission remains vital to protecting the homeland. It’s what makes this one Civil Air Patrol an essential part of our One Air Force - the best in the world.” 

”It’s no surprise to me that so many Civil Air Patrol cadets go on to continue serving our nation either in or out of uniform. So as our nation’s warriors, it’s our moral obligation to be ready to fight and win in order to preserve the freedom that was handed to us by those we are privileged to follow,” said Goldfein. 

”Like a certain Royal Air Force pilot who served in World War I, and then transitioned to serve in the New Hampshire wing during World War II. If it wasn’t for George Scotty Wilson’s enduring love for the skies and aviation which he passed down to his grandchildren, we probably wouldn’t have won the lottery with our current Secretary of the Air Force, his granddaughter, Dr. Heather Wilson," Goldfein said. "Together, all of us here tonight, we share a special calling - because we take the greatest treasure in our nation - young men and women who stand and sign up to serve their nation in a time of war and we organize them, we train them, we lead them and we marry them up with the best technology on the planet and working together we make the world a better place for our children and for our grandchildren.”

Following Gen Goldfein’s speech, he presented Gen. Carl A. Spaatz awards to Jacob Erdman of the La Crosse Composite Squadron, Wisconsin Wing, Virginia Wing members Julie Demyanovich of the Burke Composite Squadron and Jared Harrison of the Langley Composite Squadron, and Laivi Grossman of the Palwaukee Composite Squadron, Illinois Wing. The Spaatz award is the auxiliary's highest cadet honor. Since the award's conception in 1964, it has been presented to 2,222 cadets nationwide.

Goldfein finished the evening by thanking members of the Civil Air Patrol for their legacy, courage and patriotism.