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Feek retires after 24-year career of electrical engineering and aviation

  • Published
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Lt. Col. Allan Feek retired from active duty during a ceremony held Friday, Feb. 16, in the 3rd Flying Training Squadron auditorium at Vance Air Force Base.

He shared his insights and experiences gained during his 24-year Air Force career.

Why did you join the Air Force?

“My grandfather served in the Navy during World War II. My father and two of his brothers served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

“My father continued his career as a member of the Army National Guard for 42 years so I grew up around individuals who were proud of their service. I shared this desire to serve a cause bigger than myself.

“As to why the Air Force over the other services, from as early in my childhood as I can remember I wanted to fly for the Air Force. Even though I did not initially get to fly following commissioning, I still loved being in the Air Force and was eventually given the opportunity to attend pilot training.”

What is your best memory of your first assignment?

“My best memory from all my assignments are the people I have been able to work and serve with. I have lots of little stories from each assignment, but each mission, task, or project typically included other people.

“We are all part of a larger enterprise and each of our small contributions when multiplied with everyone else in the Air Force create grand outcomes. 

“My first two assignments were as an electrical engineer. My most memorable moment in my first assignment was being the subject matter expert on a system as a second lieutenant and having to provide a briefing to senior leaders in Washington D.C.

“I flew into Washington and took a train to the Pentagon. As I was walking from the train platform into the Pentagon it felt like I had to render a salute every step I took. About 20 yards from the train, a two-star general walked over to me, introduced himself and said, ‘I’ll escort you in, otherwise your arm might fall off before you make it inside.’

“He then took the time, once we were inside, to help me figure out where I needed to go and make sure I was taken care of before he went about his day. The dichotomy of being both the low man on the totem pole and the honored guest at the same time was an interesting feeling.”

What are three reasons you would recommend the Air Force as a career?

“One aspect I enjoyed about my career is that it is tough to be bored or feel stuck in a rut while you are in the Air Force. Having a job where you are changing organizations and locations every few years provides you with constantly changing new experiences.

“Moving every few years can be tough on families and service members, but it can also lead to amazing experiences that you never would have tried if the Air Force had not moved you there.

“Between the types of aircraft we operate and the numerous mission sets we fly, as pilots, we are able to do things in aircraft that we would not be able to do anywhere else in the world.

“In addition to the type of flying, the Air Force requires pilots to go burn jet fuel with the sole purpose of training. Outside of the Air Force training is all accomplished in the simulator and you only fly the aircraft to accomplish your mission.

“Early in your career, your primary task is to accomplish your mission. As you continue your career, both officers and enlisted members will find themselves involved in tasks that impact larger and larger populations of the Air Force.

“Even at the squadron level, the things you do every day can have lasting impacts on the Air Force long after you have retired.”

What advice would you give an airman or lieutenant just starting their Air Force career?

“Recognize what they can influence and what they can not. The most important thing they can influence is their own attitude. You will not always get your top choice of assignments or locations.

“But take on every assignment with a positive attitude and two goals. Goal one is learn as much as you can both on-duty and off-duty at your new assignment. And goal two is to do your absolute best with whatever your new role is.

“If you do these three things, I believe you will be able to look back at your career and realize you enjoyed every assignment and maybe even had a few surprises along the way.”

What is the biggest change you have witnessed in the Air Force?

“I came on active duty in 2000. Although Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch were going on in the Middle East, the bulk of the Air Force’s effort was still in training and equipping for a near-peer adversary.

“During the 20 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Air Force’s focus became more and more on solving the battlefield problems of tomorrow and next week. We continued to hold our major exercises, but they became the things we did in addition to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom instead of being our primary focus.

“Towards the end of those 20 years of war, Air Force leadership started to recognize the lack of future planning. Over the last few years, the Air Force has worked to build roadmaps of where we are and where we need go.

“The Air Force has started investing more of its resources into training for complex environments, focusing our acquisitions towards dominating future conflicts, and providing a vision for where we need to go as a service.”