By Staff Sgt. Peter Dean, 107th AW
/ Published August 05, 2010
Niagara Falls, New York -- On Aug. 4, more than 75 family, friends, distinguished guests, and colleagues gather at the Seay Auditorium, United States Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base. IL., for the promotion of Brig. Gen. James Kwiatkowski, to major general.
Major General Kwiatkowski, former wing commander of the New York Air National Guard's 107th Air Refueling Wing, now holds the position of Director of Operations for the Headquarters New York Air National Guard and also serves as the Air National Guard Assistant to the Commander, United States Transportation Command.
"I am humbled by the number of people here today. This is a sacred trust and I will do my best to be effective in the trust placed in me today," said the general.
The general went on to recall his younger days as a fighter pilot, working his way up the ranks, thanking his many mentors and supporters that guided him along the way.
"My mentor Major General Bill Johnson, Chief of Staff, sir thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow, counseling and mentoring me, it helped a lot. From New York, my old partner in crime (Ret.) Major General Bob Knauff, thanks for coming here sir, a lot of good memories, thanks for being here sir," said the general. "I would especially like to acknowledge the presents of my former command chief, (Ret)Chief Joe Riccio who always (good chiefs are invaluable, I think any senior leader will realize that) took care of my people while I was wing commander, he took care of my back, invaluable Chief, thanks for being here," he added.
"One naturally asks the question why me? throughout my career I've known so many other fine officers that have been smarter than me, have been more eloquent than me, just really seem to have it on the ball, but they weren't selected, again why me? I believe the reason I am standing here receiving this honor is because of the many, many people that have done such fine work under my watch," said the general.
"It's the selfless individuals that do a marvelous job every day, whether it be the unnamed Airman, the NCO checking the work, the chief, the trusty chief taking care of your people and watching your back. To the commanders under you making sure the system is running right. All of these people and hundreds like them are the shoulders on which I stand, I am very appreciative," said the general.
The general whose military career dates back to the early seventies when he entered Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, had a message for other leaders throughout the military.
"We are here today mostly because of what other people have done for us. Our charge is to take care of these people, to mentor, to provide a safe working environment, to provide proper equipment, to give direction but to keep a light touch on the wheel, in other words be leaders," said the general.
"Finally I would like to thank my family for the grand support they've given me over the years. My kids have always supported everything I've done, they've given me the rah-rah-treatment when I needed it, they are truly an inspiration to me and I love them all. And of course there is the one real hero of the room here today and that's my wife Ranea. Everyone's familiar, in our Air Force today our wives maintain home and hearth while we're away, thanks Ranea, you're the hero, you're the real patriot," said Maj. Gen. James Kwiatkowski as applause filled the room.