General retires, reflects on more than 30 years of service: Character, sacrifice, balance and courage

I recently had the opportunity to sit down for just over an hour and talk directly to a general officer who was getting ready to retire. Our conversation covered several areas, but what I found most interesting was why he serves, his optimism, and his care for the men and women who wear today’s Air Force uniform.

“My USAFE assignment, as well as my Air Force career has been both rewarding and challenging,” said Maj. Gen. Bob D. DuLaney, Director of Air and Space Operations at Headquarters USAFE. “I’m just proud to be part of it and make a difference.”

General DuLaney is retiring after more than 30 years of service to his country. He received his commission in 1974 after he completed Texas Tech University’s ROTC program as a distinguished graduate.
“When I first joined the Air Force I didn’t know very much, but I knew that everything that I had, everything that I enjoyed and everything that I was blessed with I had simply because of the country I was born in,” he said.
At that point General DuLaney decided he was going to give back to the nation, and the way he chose to do that was to serve. He said that he has never regretted that decision.

Since that summer day when he first took the oath of office, his journey hasn’t always been easy and there was plenty of sacrifice, with tragedies and victories along the way.

“I will tell you if you’re thinking about coming into the U.S. military you need to know it’s not easy. As a matter of fact it is probably one of the hardest professions a man or woman could ever choose. It’s a noble profession; you’ll work with the finest men and women you’ll ever find in any profession. But it’s not easy.”

He added that keeping our lives in “balance” was critical to meeting the constant demands of serving in the busiest command in the Air Force.
“You need to keep balance in your life because what we do is so demanding. We all do a good job of getting the mission done.  But if you don’t maintain balance you’ll wake up one morning and find you’ve lost your health or you’ve lost your family. Take care of your family, take care of your health, and take care of the spiritual aspects of your life so you’ll be prepared to meet the mission.”

General DuLaney also spoke in-depth about the men and women serving in the Air Force today, noting that they are the best our nation has to offer. He added that USAFE Airmen are performing exceptionally well ensuring freedom’s future, and they’ll continue to do so.

“I’ve been honored to be a part of this and I’ve been honored to be associated with the courageous men and women of USAFE and the pride and professionalism they portray,” he said. I’m proud to share their same call to duty, patriotism and desire to be part of this force to defend freedom and our nation.

According to the general there is nothing magic about how to succeed in the U.S. Air Force, but everyone has a direct impact on their own personal development. Among taking care of people, maintaining a positive attitude, continually learning and adapting, General DuLaney believes that character is key to everything.

“Character is easily recognizable and it’s everything in our business,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned that if you have character built on solid values you’ll succeed, not only in the military, but in any profession you choose and even in life for that matter.”

His philosophy for success also includes not worrying about the next promotion or the next assignment, but to do the task that you have in your hand today and do it the very best that you can.  If you do that, the promotions and assignments will come.

“And never, ever, ever compromise on your honesty or integrity,” he said.
General DuLaney is a command pilot with more than 4,400 flying hours. As a combatant combined task force commander, he led more than 70 combat sorties during a period of increased hostilities over Iraqi territory, accumulating 353 combat hours.

While he has no definite plans after retirement, General DuLaney and his wife Pam are planning to retire to Texas.
“I do think that I can still help our nation and our Air Force with the expertise and knowledge that I have. I’m going to find some way that I can contribute and make sure that the Air Force and our military has the tools that they need to succeed.
“At the end of a 30-plus-year career I reflect back and I can’t think of anything I would have rather done with my life – I really can’t.”