Air Force Ball speaker completes flying career where it began

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Taylor Crul
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Maj. Gen. Timothy M. Zadalis visited Vance Air Force Base Sept. 16 to be the guest speaker for the 70th Anniversary Air Force Community Ball in Enid, Oklahoma.

While here, he also took his last flight, called a “fini-flight,” in a military aircraft before retiring Oct. 1.

As Zadalis prepares for retirement, he came back to Vance, where he graduated pilot training in 1985. He still remembers the first time he drove through the old gate like it was yesterday, he said.

“My first take off was here on the T-6 runway in a Cessna T-37 Tweet,” said Zadalis. “This flight will be my last one on active duty on the same runway as my first flight.”

During his time here he toured the base, talked with the Airmen and took a trip down memory lane. Zadalis even saw a familiar face here at Vance, Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery D. Wilson, 71st Flying Training Wing command chief master sergeant, who served under Zadalis as a staff sergeant.

Wilson said, he was glad that Zadalis was able to come back to the place where he has many memories.

“It was very emotional for him to come walk these hallways, walk the streets, sit in the airplanes and be able to talk to our Airmen,” said Wilson. “He was very thankful we reached out to him.”

When the fini-flight was over, Zadalis concluded his military flying career in the same place it all began. Zadalis said he could not have written a better ending to his time as a military aviator.

The general said he is grateful for the many opportunities given him by the Air Force and his fellow Airmen to do something that made a difference in his life and in others. To his fellow Airmen and service members he offered up a simple thank you.

“Thank you for giving up so much to put on the uniform, to pass up those opportunities in civilian life to serve our nation,” said Zadalis.

Zadalis’ last job on active duty was vice commander of U.S. Air Force in Europe and Air Forces Africa, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.