Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Congratulations, USAF Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer!

6/7/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser
Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer March 31, 2017
USAF promotion and reaffirmation of oath

Congratulations are in order for newly appointed USAF Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer. A promotion ceremony and reception for her pinning was held on March 31, 2017, in the Airmen’s Hall of the Pentagon in Washington D.C. It promoted Kirsten from a Lieutenant Colonel to a full Colonel. Among the 80 guests attending the ceremony were her husband Col. Roger Lang, daughter Addyson and other family, including her parents, Ron and Linda Palmer, of Cottage Grove.

In her remarks after the pinning of the new insignia she said, “When I graduated from Cottage Grove High School, Oregon, and headed to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, I never dreamed my life and career would turn out this well.” With graduations coming up this month, it seems only fitting to post Kirsten’s most recent promotion as motivation for today’s graduates to dream big!

Longtime Grover’s and readers of this column will remember that Kirsten was always ambitious and patriotic. During high school, she was student body president, a scholar and an athlete. She served as a U.S. Senate Page for Senator Bob Packwood. Upon graduation, she enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was accepted by the Air Force Academy in Colorado. She received her commission from the Academy in May 1995. Later she would earn a Master’s of Science degree in Resource Strategy.

Climbing the ladder in any profession is arduous. We all begin at the bottom and work our way to the top. I have watched with awe as Kirsten climbed the military ladder upon her graduation from the Academy.
Her resume includes stations in five Major Commands (MAJCOMs) filling a variety of flight line and back shop positions. Her weapon system experience includes C-130s, A-10s, C-9s, C-17s and KC-135Rs.

Currently, she is a student at the prestigious Eisenhower School for National Security & Resource Strategy, Ft. Leslie McNair, Washington, D.C. The school is focused on developing strategic thinkers to operate in executive environments developing national security strategy and policy with an emphasis on evaluation and managing national resources.

If all that is as Greek to you as it was to me, it became most impressive after I looked up the responsibilities of a Colonel at A full Colonel is just above Lt. Col. and below Brig. General. It is the highest Field Officer rank. A Colonel is typically responsible for commanding a wing (unit) of 1,000 to 3,000 airmen of lower ranks. The rank insignia for Colonel is a silver eagle. They are sometimes informally referred to as “Full-Bird Colonels” to differentiate between them and Lt Colonels. It is the 22nd rank in the USAF. Go, Colonel Palmer!

If you’re a young person considering serving your country in a military career here’s a few stats about the Air Force. Their website says that they have a total of 315,725 active duty personnel. After basic military training —Start strong. Finish stronger—the work includes blue collar jobs, clerical, technical, administrative and professional areas. Becoming a pilot requires a time commitment, a bachelor’s degree, meeting officer qualifications, flight school and more. The average length of service is 14.5 years.

Is it worth it? The last time I spoke with Kirsten she said, “My plan was to stay in the Air Force as long as I was having fun. Twenty-five years later I’m still having fun! The opportunities provided by joining the military are endless and the education benefits are incredible in exchange for serving my country.”

One of the Air Force mottos is to Aim High. That’s good advice for all of today’s graduates whatever you choose to do in life.  Congratulations to all!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.