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Hundreds attend Col. Humphrey’s retirement ceremony

Col. Brian Humphrey thanks numerous friends, family members, co-workers and mentors during his Sept. 11 retirement ceremony. Col. Bradley Bird will succeed Colonel Humphrey as the 552nd Air Control Wing’s vice commander. (Air Force photo by Kelly White/Released)

Col. Brian Humphrey thanks numerous friends, family members, co-workers and mentors during his Sept. 11 retirement ceremony. Col. Bradley Bird will succeed Colonel Humphrey as the 552nd Air Control Wing’s vice commander. (Air Force photo by Kelly White/Released)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- More than 400 people attended a hangar retirement ceremony Sept. 11 honoring the 25-year career of Col. Brian A. Humphrey, vice commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing.

Featured speaker Col. John J. Cooper, commander of the 461st Air Control Wing, Robins AFB, Ga., called Colonel Humphrey an "eager, aggressive and responsible leader" with uncommonly sound judgment.

"We're looking at a leader in front of us," the colonel said inside the Bldg. 230 hangar. "We're looking at someone who mattered in the most meaningful ways - in the cockpit of our airplanes, leading our squadrons at every level ... to deputy group command to vice wing commander. Leadership is what made the difference, and leadership is what this gentleman provided to our Air Force through all those years."

Colonel Cooper noted the colonel's extensive service with the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., including as commander. The squadron maintains intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance planes on ready alert for hotline missions that can come from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among other duties.
The two colonels deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Colonel Cooper said Colonel Humphrey excelled in wartime leadership.

"We flew one of the very first sorties in from the north into Iraq," the colonel said. "He was one of the first Airmen into previously denied territory. That was leadership on the fly. That was making it happen with AWACS and the other very capable platforms that we had in inventory and it was a tremendous, tremendous achievement."

Colonel Humphrey, a command pilot with more than 2,600 flying hours, focused on others in his remarks, individually thanking family members, Airmen colleagues, commanders and mentors.

"Today is not about me," the colonel said. "I'm not up here of my own accord. We all know that. I had the help of a lot of friends and mentors along the way that helped put me in a position to succeed and got me back on track when I was off track."

He also thanked Oklahoma officials and citizens.

"I've served in many places around the country and never have I experienced such support at the state level and at the local community level that we have here in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. Del City has embraced the 552nd like no other ... We do what we do for you, but you guys give us tenfold in return and we are truly, truly thankful for all your support."

Colonel Humphrey was awarded the Legion of Merit at the ceremony for exceptional meritorious conduct as the 552nd ACW vice commander since July 2013. He also received letters of appreciation for his service from two presidents: Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush.