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Carlson named AFROTC distinguished alumnus
Gen. Bruce Carlson, (ret.) walks out of the Jeanne M. Holm Center For Officer Accessions and Citizen Development Officer Training School campus with Lt. Gen. David Fadok, his wife, and other members of the official party, after a ceremony for Carlson held at Maxwell, June 27, 2014. Carlson was selected to recive the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Distinguished Alumni Award to commemorate his thirty seven years of exepmlary military service. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook)
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Carlson named AFROTC distinguished alumnus

Posted 7/11/2014   Updated 7/11/2014 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt Gregory Brook
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/11/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al. -- The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps recognized a former commander of Air Force Materiel Command for his lasting contributions to the security of the U.S. by inducting him into its distinguished alumni program during a ceremony here June 27.

Retired Gen. Bruce Carlson, who commanded AFMC from 2005 until his retirement in January 2009, entered the Air Force in 1971 through ROTC at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

"I had a wonderful career in the Air Force," Carlson said. "Every day I would wake up and look at myself in the mirror and say 'you have got to be kidding me, I get to do this, and they are paying me for it!'"

The general said that his years in ROTC as a cadet helped frame the rest of his career.

"When I was in ROTC I didn't realize the impact my instructors, the commandant and my fellow cadets would have on me," Carlson said. "As I look back on my career, I see that choices I have made were directly influenced by the morals, the ideals and the principles that they taught. I had remarkable instructors. They were combat veterans, all of them, from the Vietnam War. They were much disciplined and they were very interested in us."

They instilled in him and the other cadets the values of integrity, service and excellence before the core values were ever written down, he said.

"I'm very honored to receive this award," Carlson said of the ROTC honors. "I never expected to receive this award; it was a big shock. ... I'm deeply humbled that I would get picked for something like this."

A command pilot with more than 3,300 flying hours, including in combat, Carlson distinguished himself through a 37-year career that saw him rise to the position of commander of AFMC.

As someone who is now looked to as a mentor by many, he said he wants Airmen to do their very best because they never know who is going to look at their work and make a judgment about them based on it.

He believes integrity is the most important of the core values.

"It is the absolute necessity in an organization like the Air Force," Carlson said. "We depend on each other as a team, whether as a wingman or trying to do a two-man job like installing an engine or servicing hydraulics. If we can't depend on one another in those situations, then when the pressure gets to be high, the system won't work. We have designed and built, and the taxpayers have paid for, a system that will work under extreme pressure."

The former general said what he misses most about the Air Force are the Airmen.
"I love the people most about the Air Force, there is no question about that," Carlson said, who was awarded the Order of the Sword by the enlisted Airmen of AFMC in 2007.

"I met a young Marine corporal once; he had one eye. He'd been injured in an IED attack in Iraq. He was [medically evacuated] to the hospital at Balad Air Base, Iraq. The doctors there said they could save his other eye if they could get him to San Antonio in less than 48 hours."

The Marine could not be flown above 10,000 feet because the risk of depressurization expansion could have caused the loss of his other eye, he said.

"The Air Force brought in a C-17," Carlson said, the recollection bringing tears to his eyes. "They picked the young Marine up, changed crews and flew non-stop to San Antonio to save his eye. No other organization in the world will do that, but we do it. It's all about the people."

The commander of AFROTC said Carlson is someone who the cadets should look up to as they start their service in the Air Force.

"General Carlson, as an AFROTC distinguished alumnus, provides an outstanding example of what our AFROTC cadets should aspire to be," said Col. Eric Wydra. "His amazing career exemplifies our core values; he shows the cadets what can be accomplished in one's Air Force career."

In his retirement, Carlson served as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office from 2009 to 2012.

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