Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of Supreme Allied Command Europe and U.S. European Command, honored a member of the KMC — someone who at one time was a Soldier, Airman and civil servant — by officiating his retirement Dec. 12 on Ramstein.
John Mace retired after 54 total years of service to the U.S. military with more than 100 family members, friends and military leaders present. Also, in attendance was Gen. Mark A. Welsh, U.S. Air Force chief of staff.
“I’m very humbled about General Welsh and General Breedlove being in attendance,” Mace said. “Two of the finest officers in any branch of service that I have ever met, and if I could pick either one of those as a brother, that would be the ultimate (choice). The biggest determining factor of a leader is his ability to influence others through his day-to-day actions, by walking the walk instead of talking the talk. These guys do it.”
Mace began his service as a medic before he transitioned to military police in the Army. After several years he separated from the Army, but, he could not stay away from the military life. He returned as a medic for the Air Force and retired after 25 years in uniform.
“I think the most important things taught to him were to respect everyone and that the art of giving is what makes people in your life last,” Breedlove said. “A lot of people are at your retirement because of what you have given over the years.”
Yet, six months after hanging up his master sergeant stripes, he would be back as a civil servant in the medical career field. With service members regularly deploying and moving assignments, civilian counterparts help provide organizations with continuity and familiarity. He would spend 29 years providing that bridge between ever-changing leaders and Airmen.
“This is a servant leader that devoted his time to the people that sat in his examination room,” Breedlove said looking at Mace. “You have taught me what it means to take care of people … I thank you for that.”
Mace retired as the 86th Medical Group Special Operations Clinic operations officer and received the Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award for his time building, developing and taking care of Airmen.
“It has been a very long and exciting life,” Mace said. “Through my 25 years in the uniform and 29 more as civil service, I am grateful for all the things I was able to experience. While this chapter in my life is closing, I hope to go off and continue to do what the military has shown me to be my passion: helping people.”