WASHINGTON (AFNS), –
The Air Force welcomed an Airman to the rank of four-star general and announced the appointment of the new Air Force vice chief of staff during a ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., Aug. 6.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A Welsh III presided over the ceremony for Gen. David L. Goldfein in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 Airmen and distinguished visitors that included Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, several U.S. ambassadors, current and former members of the 720th Special Tactics Group, and first responders from the New York City Fire Department among others.
"General Goldfein knows this isn't a reward, it's a challenge," Welsh said. "He respects the opportunity; he is not intimidated by it, and he also acknowledges the unbelievable privilege it represents. He deserves this promotion, and more importantly, the Air Force deserves his leadership."
As the previous director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, Goldfein assisted the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in fulfilling his responsibilities as the principal military adviser to the president and secretary of Defense. He developed and provided strategic direction, policy guidance and planning focus to the Joint Staff and fostered clear communication among the president, secretary of Defense, unified commands and the services. With more than 4,200 flying hours since his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, Goldfein has flown combat missions in operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Northern Watch, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom.
During the ceremony, Col. J.J. Johnson, the commander of the 720th STG, made several presentations to recognize Goldfein's history with the special operations unit that started nearly two decades ago behind enemy lines.
"For those of you who don't know it, General Goldfein was shot down over Kosovo," Johnson said. "Sixteen years, three months and four days ago (today), a rescue team from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron went in, got him and brought him back. Every year on the anniversary of that day, he sends the unit a bottle of scotch. Today, we want to return the favor."
After thanking those in attendance and remembering the heroes who helped him during his career, Goldfein ended the ceremony with a promise.
"It's not about what we do, but who we are," he said. "My promise to you, with this fourth star, is that I will do my best to be a better man, husband, father and a better officer for the Air Force."