AMC command chief retires at DAFB

DOVER — It turns out that Larry C. Williams Jr. didn’t have his head in the clouds after all when he envisioned what his future would hold for him as an 8-year-old growing up in North Carolina.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Williams, command chief of the Air Mobility Command, wrote a letter at that young age about his life plans — and it wasn’t just so that he would get a chance to also draw a cool airplane to go along with it.

For Chief Master Sgt. Williams, whose exciting 30-year journey in the Air Force began to wind down with his retirement ceremony at the Air Mobility Command Museum adjacent to Dover Air Force Base on Friday, it’s always seemed to be about big aircraft and serving his country.

On the back of his retirement ceremony program were the words that were penciled by a much younger Williams all those years ago: “When I am grown up”

“I will be a big strong man when I grow up. I will be in the air force so I can drive a big army plane, then I might drive the biggest plane in the world, but I have to get to be big and strong to fly that plane. One day when I grow up I just might be in the air force and drive a big army plane.”

Chief Master Sgt. Williams, who assumed the role of AMC command chief on Feb. 26, returned to the place where it all started — Dover Air Force Base — for his retirement ceremony on Friday.

“I left North Carolina in 1989 to come into the Air Force and I think the bet was at that time that I would be back in a couple of years,” Chief Master Sgt. Williams said. “So, 30 years later I have gone through an amazing career and I have seen some awesome things in the service of my country that I’ve been able to do — 17 of those 30 years in the Air Force was spent right here at Dover Air Force Base in three different assignments.

“I’ve been able to see this base grow and still contribute to the national defense strategy and those kinds of things. It’s just awesome to see the landscape of the base change, but to see the impact of the base stay exactly the same.”

He added, “It’s just been an awesome career and I couldn’t have thought of a better place to end it than right here at Dover Air Force Base where I started it.”

Chief Master Sgt. Williams, whose background includes duty as a C-5 crew chief, flight engineer and career enlisted aviator, received several accolades during his retirement ceremony and Brig. Gen. Albert G. Miller gave remarks saluting his commitment.

“How do you do justice to a 30-year career?,” Brig. Gen. Miller asked. “Especially a 30-year career that has been mobility Air Force from day one to day last.

“From day one, people knew he was going places. He sets himself apart from his peers.”

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, AMC commander, saw those attributes when Chief Master Sgt. Williams was promoted to AMC command chief.

“Chief Williams has a tremendous record of leadership performance and a long and distinguished career of selfless service within the mobility enterprise,” Gen. Everhart II said back in February. “He will continue to serve as a vital voice for our Airmen and his appointment enables uninterrupted advice and counsel on enlisted and mission impacting issues.”

Special connection to DAFB

Dover Air Force Base will always have a special place in Chief Master Sgt. Williams’ heart, because it is where he started his Air Force career, and it is also where he met his wife, Lisa, a Harrington native.

“I spent a lot of time here at Dover and I have so many family and friends that are still here and I’m just really attached to this base,” said Chief Master Sgt. Williams. “This is where I started my Air Force career and throughout my life I’ve always seemed to come back to Dover.

“There’s another reason, also. My wife is from here (Harrington), so we do consider this our second home.

“When there was time to pick an event like this and to celebrate a career, I couldn’t have thought of a better place to do it than right here amongst the people I’ve known for a long time and worked with.”

Throughout his career, Chief Master Sgt. Williams has been awarded: the Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters; Air Medal; Aerial Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters; and Combat Readiness Medal with oak leaf cluster.

As AMC command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Williams was the principal advisor to the commander and his senior staff on matters of health, welfare and morale, professional development, and the effective utilization of more than 38,000 active duty and 71,000 Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard enlisted personnel assigned to the command responsible for rapid global mobility and worldwide reach.

He entered the Air Force in 1989 and has almost three decades’ experience in Mobility. He has served in leadership roles at the squadron, group and wing.

He has also served as an instructor flight engineer, as the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center superintendent and as the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing command chief.

Prior to his selection as the AMC command chief, he served as the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center command chief at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Looking back upon those words he wrote as an 8-year-old, he thanked the Air Force for helping him achieve his lifelong dream. He did, indeed, fly the world’s biggest cargo plane – the C-5.

“Those are dreams that can only be made true by servicing the United States Air Force, in my opinion,” Chief Master Sgt. Williams said. “That is the thing that is the most memorable to me is that as a small child I saw I something that I wanted to do, and I had a dream, and I joined the Air Force and they helped make that dream come true.”

Looking back …

Chief Master Sgt. Williams is ready to move his wife and two sons back to North Carolina when his actual retirement date takes place on May 1, 2019.

For him, it will be a journey that will have gone full-circle. The majority of his service has taken place in times of war, which is never easy for air mobility he said.

“Obviously when I first got to Dover in 1989, I came here with no cell phone and no GPS and working my way here was like being in the country from North Carolina,” he said. “When I got here if you drove more than two miles west or south of Dover Air Force Base there was nothing there.

“I’ve seen the landscape change as far as it getting really populated around here, but at the same time, the base has really drawn down in regards to total manpower that we had when I came here in 1989.”

He said that hasn’t seemed to deter the mission at DAFB.

“What I’ve seen is the workload continue to increase and the impact that Dover Air Force Base has on America, on our national defense strategy, on the world, on people in need, giving our leaders the ability to negotiate from a position of power, has never changed,” Chief Master Sgt. Williams said. “That’s what I think is so awesome.

“In times of limited resources like we’ve been through the last several years, the men and women, and the community here that supports them, always knows that what they do is important.

“I’ve never seen that change and I think that’s probably what attracted me most back here to say thanks and to do my final farewell here at Dover.”

 

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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