Officer Training School's first alumni ceremony honors general officers
By Carl Bergquist, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published June 05, 2009
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Two former Officer Training School cadets came back to Maxwell Monday to be honored as the school's first two distinguished alumni.
Retired Gen. William Hobbins, and retired Lt. Gen. Dennis Larsen both began their Air Force careers as newly commissioned second lieutenants from OTS, and both went on to attain the rank of flag officer.
General Hobbins, who served his last Air Force assignments at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in the multi-hat role of commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe; commander of NATO Allied Air Component Command and director of the Joint Air Power Competence Center, described the ceremony as "unique and honorable" and something "he wouldn't have thought of" 39 years ago when he joined the Air Force.
"This is a great way to remember those who attended OTS," he said. "Having my plaque placed on the wall of OTS brings new meaning to the phrase, 'Leaving your mark on the wall.""
General Larsen, whose last Air Force assignment was as the vice commander of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, said he was "shocked" when he learned from AETC commander Gen. Stephen Lorenz that he had been selected for the honor.
"I didn't know the award even existed until General Lorenz told me about it," he said. "I remember thinking, 'I don't need this. I served 36 years in the Air Force and that is enough.' Then I thought, 'It is important to all the OTS graduates here today who will be second lieutenants tomorrow to see that you can do this too with your careers.'"
The ceremony was held in OTS's Boyd Auditorium before family and friends, former OTS graduates and the OTS class of 09-06, and Brig. Gen. Teresa Djuric, Holmes Center commander, said it was her honor to share a stage with such distinguished Air Force officers.
"NCOs who worked for General Larsen said he would take the time out of his busy schedule to ask their opinions," she said. "General Hobbins is recognized for his military merit in 11 countries of the world, and NCOs who worked for him said he was a tremendous leader who demonstrated concern for the Enlisted Corps."
Col. Laura Koch, OTS commander, said this was the first annual Officer Training School Distinguished Alumni Recognition ceremony, and she was glad Generals Hobbins and Larsen could be present for the ceremony.
"On behalf of the men and women of Officer Training School, past, present and future, we are proud to recognize General Hobbins and Lieutenant General Larsen for their achievements and service to our nation since their graduation from OTS," she said. "Most importantly today, I would like to extend my heart-felt congratulations to General Hobbins and General Larsen. Generals, thank you for taking time to attend today's ceremony. Thank you for a lifetime of commitment to our nation and our Air Force and for the leadership and mentorship provided to all Airmen over the course of your career."
Colonel Koch said the distinguished alumni recognition program was established in October 2007, and both military members and civilians are eligibility for the recognition. She said to be eligible, an individual must have graduated from one of the current or predecessor programs, and if military, either active duty, retired, Reserve or Air National Guard, line officers must reach the rank of at least lieutenant general and non-line officers the rank of at least major general. The individual must also have received the Silver Star medal or higher, or attained a high level of honorable recognition or distinction for an accomplishment with Air Force-wide or national/international significance, or for historically notable service or combat achievements.
The colonel said civilians who are OTS graduates are eligible if they completed at least four years active-duty, Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard service or a combination that amounts to four years service. They too must have achieved a high level of honorable recognition or distinction. She also said the OTS Distinguished Alumni Recognition Award could be presented to a person posthumously.
"I remember when I graduated OTS. I was a little intimidated to be in the Air Force with the ROTC and Air Force Academy graduates," General Larsen told students in the audience. "But, you will see they give you assignments based on your experience and skills. Hopefully, you all will say, 'I too have a place in this the world's best Air Force.'"