RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
After 37 and a half years in the U.S. Air Force, Gen. Frank Gorenc shared a few departing words to Airmen as he prepares for the Aug.11 change of command and future retirement.
As U.S. Air Forces Europe – Air Forces Africa commander for the past three years, Gorenc will leave behind an exceptional legacy that has helped propel all European-based Airmen to the next level by reinvigorating a Forward, Ready, Now mentality.
“It’s always an honor and a privilege to be a commander, it’s really an honor and privilege to be a commander when you’re presented with a significant challenge; a worldwide challenge that tests not only the people, but the organization,” he said.
From day-one at the helm of USAFE-AFAFRICA, the commander was presented with a number of challenges testing his ability to lead the command on a multitude of fronts, while maintaining the longstanding allied partnerships within Europe. In 2014 alone, USAFE-AFAFRICA’s endurance was tested again and again, including Russia’s actions in Crimea, the proliferation of Daesh, and the deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa. European Airmen cinched the opportunity to serve up a dose of Airpower under Gorenc’s leadership through strategic and humanitarian capabilities.
“The satisfaction of watching our Airmen do the business of the Air Force over the last three years has simply been spectacular, and personally fulfilling. It was a significant three years in our history and we always rose to meet the challenge,” he said.
He attributed USAFE’s success to the fact the Air Force has always been a non-stop force of innovation since its inception in 1947.
“It’s been reassuring to see that we continue to develop and nurture Airmen that understand, that when our nation calls, they rise to the occasion and deliver our core competencies in a way that allows us to consistently win 100-0, not 51-49,” said Gorenc. “In this business, winning 51-49 is not an option.
The general said he’s proud to see Airmen continue to build upon each generation’s success to further the Air Force’s core competencies of air and space superiority, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, rapid mobility, strike, and command and control.
“It’s very satisfying to know how consistent the Air Force message has been and how we have been able to find better ways to deliver exceptional combat power,” he added.
Since his time and graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1979, the general has repeatedly set and achieved many of his goals throughout his career, but he said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of strong mentors and family support.
“I’ve had many mentors, I can’t really describe just one,” said Gorenc. “I’ve had a lot of immediate supervisors that have taken care of me in a way that I never expected.
“Those mentors, what they did have in common, is that they recognized my potential and they helped me realize that potential,” he said. “They saw it fit to make sure they advocated for me in a way that would allow me to continue my career.”
In his time, he’s traveled all around the globe and seen too many changes to count, but one of his favorite moments came fairly early on in his career.
“One of the best memories that I have occurred after 10 years of being in the Air Force,” he said.
It was his first real deployment and he was flying combat missions during the first Gulf War.
“At that time, it was really great to see my training and my mission really come together for the first time,” he recalled. “It was great to experience that moment where everything you’ve learned is put to practice and you realize that your training enabled you to do the mission so well.”
Gorenc still aspires to reinforce just how important each Airman’s role in Europe is to the overall Air Force mission and American partnerships.
“The most important thing that Airmen do in the European theater is work with our allies and partners to develop and nurture trust.
“The Airman’s key role overseas is to be an ambassador,” he said. “Each and every one of us is charged with promoting relationships, building trust, and enabling our allies and partners to bring peace and stability to the world.”
As his time in blue draws to a close, Gorenc also said memories of his family and all of their sacrifices and support during his career hold a very special place in his heart.
“Looking back and remembering all the things my family and I have experienced, and seeing how my wife, Sharon, and my kids, Michael and Helen, have come through and enjoyed everything the Air Force had to offer is so special to me. It was just a great place to raise a family and it was a great memory that I have now as I retire.”