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Andersen says farewell to vice commander

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
After serving as the 36th Wing vice commander for more than two years, Col. Tod 'Popeye' Fingal said farewell to the community he has come to regard as family at the Sunrise Conference Center here June 25.

It was standing-room-only with family, friends and coworkers vying for an opportunity to wish the outgoing vice commander well. The dinner captured a perfect blend of humor, seriousness and heart as Brig. Gen. John Doucette, 36th Wing commander, and the man-of-the-hour addressed the assembly in turn.

"On my first day as wing commander here, Colonel Fingal told me to focus on my Airmen," General Doucette said. "Since that time, a year ago, I have seen nothing but back-slaps and handshakes from a man who gets out more than anyone I know."

"His focus has been entirely on the Airmen," the general continued, "the people who make the mission work, and I'm here to tell you that Colonel Fingal epitomizes everything our nation holds dear in a leader. I'll truly miss his back-slaps, his handshakes and his friendship as he closes this chapter and moves on to the next."

When it came time for the guest of honor to address his audience, he spoke of lessons learned, friendships forged and unmatched devotion.

"We have taken strides as a family and overcome obstacles by becoming a cohesive team working together for a common goal," he said. "In life, I can tell you there will be times when it's hard to get out of bed and it's hard to go to work, but those are the times when knowing there are people to push you, and drive you forward can make the difference."

While serving as vice commander here, Colonel Fingal helped guide the 36th Wing to success during countless operational readiness exercises and inspections, demonstrating Team Andersen's capability and commitment to stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

"I've been amazed with how much this wing has prospered under the leadership of everybody in this room," Colonel Fingal said. "As a guy that flies small airplanes coming to a bomber base, I have been extremely impressed. Since coming here, I have learned what it truly means to be an Airman and how important each and every one of you is to putting bombs on target, on time."

As the night drew to a close, the colonel thanked his wingmen for their support and dedication, and encouraged them to continue to be leaders.

"I've got to thank all of you for what you bring to the fight," he said. "Some of you are going on to follow-on assignments, some of you are retiring from the Air Force, but each and every one of you has contributed to what we are doing here at Andersen. All I ask is that you take the drive and determination that you've had here, and carry it out to the rest of the force. You can make the difference."

Colonel Fingal is headed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada where he will assume command of Red Flag, the 414th Combat Training Squadron there. His successor, Col. Donald Drechsler, will be leaving his position as vice commander of the Air Force Inspection Agency at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico and is scheduled to arrive on Andersen in late June.