Alumni Coming ‘Home’: General Kelly speaks at Texas State University AFROTC Detachment 840

  • Published
  • By Shelby Pinner Cadet Wing Commander
  • Detachment 840 Cadet Wing

General Mark D. Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, visited and spoke with cadets at Detachment 840 on April 13th, 2023. Gen. Kelly commissioned in 1985 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) program at Detachment 840 from (then) Southwest Texas State University, which is formally known as Texas State University today. 

In an interview, Gen. Kelly shared the best advice he has ever received for both his personal and professional life and how he has applied it throughout his time in the U.S. Air Force. 

“I would say for my personal life, especially within the Air Force, the best advice I was given is don’t run out of family before you run out of career,” said Gen. Kelly. “What we do day in, and day out takes a lot of effort, energy, and time away from home. Whether that be the day to day of the job, or a temporary duty or deployment, it’s easy to get caught up in an incredibly mission focused schedule, but it’s important that you run your schedule or else your schedule will run you.” 

It is not unusual for people to face burn out or lack of motivation throughout their career. However, Gen. Kelly stays motivated after serving 37 years in the Air Force because he chose to find new reasons to be inspired and continue his journey along the way. 

“What motivates me about the Air Force today and what motivated me about the Air Force 37 years ago when I finished pilot training was what you stay in for, it may not be what you exactly came in for,” said Gen. Kelly. “I came in for a personal reason, to fly airplanes, but it is not the reason I stayed in. I stayed in because of the people, whether it be the aviation profession, or the people that support that mission. Once you get to know different groups of people, it’s hard to find that outside of the Air Force.” 

Being a part of a family is a shared value among Texas State University (TXST) and the U.S. Air Force. At TXST our motto is “Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat,” and Gen. Kelly shared his experiences from his time at Southwest Texas State University as a Bobcat and Detachment 840 as a Bobcat Airmen. 

“My most memorable experience from AFROTC was going to summer camp at Lackland, which is just right down the road,” said Gen. Kelly. “What was interesting about that was when I lived here at Southwest Texas State, there was actually a dorm on campus that had no air conditioning and it was called Harris Hall, it has since been obviously bulldozed, and summer camp was in the barracks with no air-conditioning so a lot of people were challenged to adjust to the summer of Texas trying to sleep at night meanwhile I was used to it.” 

Lastly, Gen. Kelly gave advice to cadets just starting their AFROTC careers and cadets who are about to begin their careers in the U.S. Air Force as Second Lieutenants.

“The big thing is to understand that this is a journey, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon, so just wake up every day and focus on a specific list of things you need to improve yourself on,” said Gen. Kelly. “You want to get to the end of the week being a better version of yourself than you were on Monday.”