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Kirkpatrick retires from active duty May 24

Kirkkpatrick retirement

Lt. Col. Michael Kirkpatrick, right, accepts his retirement flag from Lt. Col. David Bregand, the 71st Operations Support Squadron director of operations, during a ceremony held May 24 at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Terry Wasson)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Lt. Col. Michael Kirkpatrick retired from Air Force active duty during a ceremony held May 24 in the 8th Flying Training Squadron auditorium.

He was awarded the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal and his wife and their children were presented with certificates of appreciation.

Kirkpatrick’s last assignment at Vance was commander of the 71st Operations Support Squadron.

The five questions at retirement:

Why did you join the Air Force?
Kirkpatrick: To serve my country and fly airplanes.

What's your best memory of your first assignment?
Kirkpatrick: Getting to go TDY to Hawaii.

What are three reasons you would recommend the Air Force as a career?
Kirkpatrick: Fantastic sense of purpose, comradery and friendships; lasting memories of varied jobs and assignments; and constant personal growth.

What advice would you give an airman or lieutenant just starting their Air Force career?
Kirkpatrick: Embrace it and never look back. It will be the fastest 20 years of your life.

What is the biggest change you've witnessed in the Air Force?
Kirkpatrick: The before and after 9/11 change in mission focus and organizational goals, bringing about the opening of two theaters of operations -- Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Air Force and the Department of Defense changed overnight on 9/11.