Retiring Vice Wing commander reflects on past, looks to the future

Airman 1st Class Thomas Trower

After being affiliated with the Air Force for more than 29 years, Col. Jeffrey P. Harrell, former 27th Fighter Wing vice commander, bid farewell to his final assignment at Cannon.
Colonel Harrell’s official retirement ceremony was held at 1 p.m. June 30 at The Landing.
Colonel Harrell received his Bachelor of Science degree in history from the Air Force Academy in 1981, which marked the beginning of a highly-decorated career in the U.S. military. Through the years, Colonel Harrell has held many different positions in many different parts of the world. From Arizona to the Republic of Korea, he enjoyed his various assignments, but his most memorable experience was “leading a fighter squadron in combat,” he said. In 1999 the colonel commanded his squadron to no fatalities in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
Although the colonel said every base has something special about it, “the best part of this assignment has been the people, both on the base and off the base. These are the most dedicated Airmen I have ever worked with in my life. I have never been around people who were as supportive of the base as here.”
Colonel Harrell said, he knew now was just the best time for him to separate from the Air Force. “I was once told, ‘One day you’ll wake up and know it’s time,’ and this is it,” he said.

When trying to decide on where to go from here, the colonel said he was very surprised to hear where his wife, Suzie?, wanted to go.
“She followed me around to my assignments for 16 years, so it was my turn to follow her,” said Colonel Harrell.
Much to his enjoyment, Mrs. Harrell suggested going to Albuquerque, N.M. The paperwork is well on its way for Colonel Harrell to become the new Director of the National Training Center at the Department of Energy at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
When asked what advice he would like to pass on to the Air Force’s future leaders, he broke it down into two things: take advantage of all of the opportunities the Air Force provides, and build on everything learned throughout their careers.
“It never made sense to me why people don’t take advantage of the educational opportunities,” the colonel said, adding that the Family Support Center and Professional Enhancement Center also provide other courses that do not pertain to education.
The various programs provided by the services squadron are another way to entertain Airmen and make sure they “don’t stay in their dorm rooms all of the time.”
“Airmen should keep the lessons they have learned,” said Colonel Harrell. Everything taught from the beginning of basic training through senior leadership schools will pertain to their entire career, he said.

The colonel had to learn one tough lesson through trial and error in his career.
“Try not to make rash decisions,” the colonel said highlighting that all Airmen should “[gather] all of the information before acting.”
All in all, Colonel Harrell believed that he had a very successful career in the Air Force.
“This has been such and enjoyable experience for both Suzie and I,” said the colonel, wrapping up a career of feelings into a simple expression of gratitude.