Gen. Mark A. Welsh III
'humbled' to serve as Air Force chief of staff
August 14, 2012
The Air Force chief
of staff flag passed to the service's 20th chief in a ceremony here Aug.
Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, a 36-year Airman, stepped into the position,
taking over for Gen. Norton Schwartz, who also retired from the Air
Force during the ceremony.
"Mark is respected throughout the Air Force for his exceptional
leadership and ability to connect with Airmen," Secretary of the Air
Force Michael Donley said.
Raised in an Air Force family, Welsh said he found a role model in his
father, a decorated combat pilot.
"Today, I think he'd be proud of me," Welsh said. "And any day a kid can
make his dad proud is a great day."
Welsh emphasized the need for Airmen to understand the importance of the
other services in joint operations, but also said Airmen shouldn't
underestimate the combat capabilities of their own service in winning
"No one else can bring what we bring to the fight, and any real
warfighter knows that," he said. "Don't ever doubt yourself or this
Welsh also addressed his stance on issues affecting the well-being of
"When it comes to Airman resiliency, suicide prevention, and sexual
assault prevention and response, I believe you're either part of the
solution or you're part of the problem," he said. "There is no middle
Welsh also said the Air Force must shape the future and that will
require innovative thinking and different approaches to problems, along
Force officials said the X-51A Waverider successfully made its first
scramjet-powered hypersonic flight May 26 after being released by a B-52
bomber off the southern California coast. Four X-51A cruisers have been
built for the Air Force Research Laboratory by Boeing and Pratt &
Whitney Rocketdyne. (Courtesy image)
Welsh was nominated by the president May 10 and confirmed by the Senate
on Aug. 2.
In his previous position as the commander of U. S. Air Forces in Europe,
he was in charge of Air Force activities in an area of operations
covering nearly one-fifth of the globe.
Welsh, a 1976 graduate of the Air Force Academy, has served in numerous
operational, command and staff positions, such as commandant of cadets
at the U.S. Air Force Academy, vice commander of Air Education and
Training Command and associate director for military affairs at the
Central Intelligence Agency.
"When I became a squadron commander, I felt excited. When I became a
wing commander, I felt proud. When I became a major command commander, I
felt privileged and a little bit old," he said. "Today when I was sworn
in as chief of staff of the Air Force, I felt humbled to be given the
honor of leading its incredible Airmen."
X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle is uploaded to an Air
Force Flight Test Center B-52 for fit testing at Edwards Air Force Base
on July 17, 2009. Four scramjet-powered Waveriders were built for the
Air Force. The Air Force Research Laboratory, DARPA, Pratt & Whitney
Rocketdyne, and Boeing are partners on the X-51A technology demonstrator
program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chad Bellay)
His experience includes nearly 3,300 flying hours, most of which came in
the A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
As the ceremony ushered in a new chapter in Air Force history, it also
served as the final chapter for Schwartz's four years as the service's
senior uniformed leader and his more than 39 years of military service.
B-52H Stratofortress taxis to the runway at Edwards Air Force Base,
Calif. carrying the X-51A Waverider on its second hypersonic flight test
June 13, 2011. It was the second test of the X-51A Waverider in the
Point Mugu Naval Air Test Range over the Pacific, bringing significant
hypersonic research data. (Photo by Bob Ferguson/Boeing)
Schwartz's career began in1973 after graduating from the Air Force
Academy. He has logged more than 4,400 flying hours and participated in
military operations in Vietnam, Iraq and Cambodia.
looking for an example of Air Force core values need look no further
than Gen. Norty Schwartz," Donley said. "Thank you for your lasting
contribution to our Air Force and the character and quality of your
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta presented Schwartz with the Defense
Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded to service members who
perform exceptionally meritorious service in a position of great
The award citation highlighted his success in restoring excellence in
the Air Force nuclear mission, his efforts to partner with joint and
coalition teammates in support of operations worldwide, modernizing the
Air Force's air and space inventories, and care for Airmen and families.
Schwartz's wife Suzie was also recognized for her devotion to Airmen and
family support programs.
"The Air Force has afforded us an honorable and rewarding journey for
the entirety of our adult lives," Schwartz said.