Air Force leaders honored outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein July 31 at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., as he heads for retirement in the coming days.
Goldfein is leaving his post as the Air Force’s top uniformed official after four years in the job and nearly 40 years of military service. He will hand off his position atop the Air Force and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Gen. Charles Q. Brown, who most recently oversaw Pacific Air Forces, on Aug. 6.
Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett presented a stone panel inscribed with Goldfein’s words that will be added to the memorial: “This is our sacred duty. When protecting Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, we fly to the sound of the guns … or we die trying.”
The memorial features granite walls that bear quotes from notable figures in aviation and military history.
Goldfein thanked his family and friends for their support and said his upbringing as a military child taught him humility and resilience.
“I always had a ball watching my dad … and his interactions with his wingmen, especially his fellow Vietnam vets who came over to the house on Friday nights to tell war stories,” he said. “My brothers and I would sneak into the living room and listen to them and just feel the sense of camaraderie of this band of brothers, forged in the tough crucible of combat. It was one of the contributing factors in my desire to join the Air Force.”
In his last months as Chief, Goldfein has shied away from questions of legacy. He has pushed to improve the Air Force’s contributions to the joint force, make squadrons and lower-level Airmen feel heard, and invest in technology to share data and better connect the force’s myriad aircraft and weapons. Alongside Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, Goldfein also encouraged service-wide discussions on racism that will reverberate past his tenure.
“Your passion for warfighting excellence is undeniable. … Lesser men would be lowered into service parochialism,” Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson said. “You taught us that we can be unapologetic advocates for our Air Force without sacrificing our duty to place joint interests over all.”