PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Florida --
Not even the king of Margaretville, Jimmy Buffet, could compete with a two-star general when a tropical rock band halted its set to pay tribute to Maj. Gen. Ronald B. “Bruce” Miller with the Air Force song--island style, when he showed up in a Florida beach town with 15 Texans.
Miller who commands 10th Air Force, operating out of Naval Air Station Forth Worth, showed up on Florida’s Space Coast with 15 Texas business and community leaders to visit the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida and learn about its mission. It was their second stop on Florida’s East Coast after visiting the 482nd Fighter Wing, at Homestead Air Reserve Station, in Miami, earlier that day on April 24, 2019.
“Bringing civic leaders to the 482nd and 920th enables us to showcase the diverse mission sets under 10th Air Force. We not only have fighters, we also have search and rescue and special operators, among several other mission sets,” said Miller. The visit was part of a final hurrah before the general’s pending retirement from the Air Force.
The Texans are leaders of various companies, organizations or small businesses that range from big aerospace, to small mom-and-pop, to various government organizations and civic councils; it’s all in the name of community support, which plays a vital role in U.S. military operations, according to the general.
A quote by U.S. President Lincoln holds true today and emphasizes why showcasing DoD missions to the public is vital. “In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed.”
With a lot riding on the Air Force Reserve’s role in the fight, Miller’s record speaks volumes about his leadership style and how AFRC’s 10th units are contributing. With more than 3,300 flying hours under his “belt buckle” flying fighter jets such as the A-10 Warthog and the F-16 Falcon, the general is a combat effective leader, like the 17 units he commands.
They include: fighter, bomber, special operations, rescue, airborne warning and control, fighter and bomber flying-training missions, combat air operations battle staff, remotely-piloted aircraft, space and cyber units in the Air Force Reserve Command
These units provide combat capability to Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Pacific Air Forces, Air Force Space Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Education and Training Command and the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency.
As one of his top units, Miller awarded Col. Kurt Matthews, 920th Rescue Wing commander, his host on this visit, with the Power and Vigilance Award May 8, 2018, during the Combat Planning Council social in Ft. Worth, Texas out of all the other units.
The Power and Vigilance Award is presented to the 10th AF unit which best exhibits the Numbered Air Force's vision as "The premier provider of affordable, integrated, flexible and mission-ready Reserve Citizen Airmen to execute power and vigilance in support of U.S. National Security."
The 920th Rescue Wing distinguished themselves by performing two sea rescues each approximately 500 miles out, as well as assisting with rescues during Hurricane Harvey and conducting search and rescue missions after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, among multiple overseas deployments, and many other notable achievements.
“Our Guardian Angels have a special mission, ensuring others return with honor. It is an extremely important mission because our Airmen are our most important asset,” said Miller.
The 920th comprises the Air Force Reserve’s only rescue unit which utilizes 3 weapons systems to carry out its combat-search-and-rescue mission; the HC-130N King propeller-driven multi-platform aircraft; the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter; and the Guardian Angel human weapons system made up a of lethal and life-saving mix of enlisted and officer pararescue and survival specialists.
Their mission is to fight their way in, if called for, and utilize their specialized trauma medicine skills to save the life of a combatant, an injured hiker, those lost at sea, or astronauts who bail from space missions.
Among the Guardian Angels’ expertise is mountain climbing, skydiving, swimming, SCUBA diving, swiftwater rescue and marksmanship.
The general and Texas civic leaders got to experience a first-hand look at the mission during a flight aboard a combat-rescue King observing pararescue Airmen skydive off the back an HC-130 King over PAFB taking Miller and his top enlisted man, Command Chief Master Sgt. James Loper, with them via a tandem jump experience.
“Maj. Gen. Miller and Chief Loper definitely have the pulse on the issues when one of their main priorities is to get out from under Headquarters and visit the units as they have the 308th twice now. Both work very hard to keep the Air Force machine moving forward ensuring direction is getting down to the lowest level and it’s a rarity when a two-star general and command chief are willing to come out and get dirty with their Airmen. Speaks volumes to their character,” Ziegler.
At a dinner gathering the night prior, a local civic leader named by Matthews' as his honorary commander, joined the group to share and compare stories. Questions were asked and answered and new friends were made.
Travis Proctor, the newly minted honorary commander of the 920th Rescue wing, joined the group with his wife Teresa, “I was humbled to have the very unique opportunity to spend the day with Col Matthews, the 10th Air Force Commander, Maj Gen Miller, and civic leaders from the Ft. Worth Texas, highlighting the mission and outstanding men and women of the 920th,” said Proctor. “The more time I get to spend learning about the wing, the more proud I am to serve as the honorary commander. I am confident that the Major General and his delegation left with confidence that this is one of the finest wings in the 10th Air Force.” Proctor is the CEO of Artemis IT, a Brevard County IT company.
“We are grateful to the leadership of the 482nd and 920th for opening up their wings to us and allowing us to showcase how their Airmen provide Power and Vigilance to ensure 10th Air Force is Always There!” said Miller.
Miller also recently visited the 920th Rescue Wing’s geographically separated unit in Portland, the 304th Rescue Squadron, and flew his final Air Force mission at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona aboard an A-10.
In finale, 2nd Lt. Amanda Forshaw, public affairs officer, was called on by Miller rewarding her with a second coining, after receiving her first 10th coin during his last visit to Patrick in February 2018. Miller capped off the accolades by recognizing Col. Kurt Matthews, the 920th Rescue Wing commander, with his commander’s coin.
While the general has experienced much in his career, an island version of the Air Force song, may have been a first. Now, he can retire from the Air Force, which will take effect May 10, 2019.