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Goodbye but not forgotten

Maj. Jon Quinlan (right center) conducts a video interview for the 507th Air Refueling Wing public affairs office prior to a KC-46A arrival ceremony, Feb. 8, 2019.  Quinlan served as the chief of public affairs for the 507 ARW from Nov. 2012 to July 2019.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Lauren Gleason)

Maj. Jon Quinlan (right center) conducts a video interview for the 507th Air Refueling Wing public affairs office prior to a KC-46A arrival ceremony, Feb. 8, 2019. Quinlan served as the chief of public affairs for the 507 ARW from Nov. 2012 to July 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Lauren Gleason)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- It is with some sadness and much pride that I write this message today as my last day as the Public Affairs Officer for the 507th Air Refueling Wing. I have worked with so many outstanding ‘Okies’ in my tenure here and I would like express my gratitude for knowing and working with all of you.

Telling the Okies story has never been easy. Most of you are humble warriors and do not want the spotlight. Or maybe you don't want your photo to be the next funny meme on the bulletin board at the ops desk. Either way, I have worked with a great team of Reserve Citizen Airmen from all different backgrounds or career fields for almost 7 years here at the 507th. From maintenance to ops, defenders or port dawgs, admin and Intel, all of you are phenomenal and you should always be proud to be part of the Okie family.

As I depart for a new mission, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the important role each one of you plays in the defense of our nation. You see, in my role, I get to observe almost all aspects of the wing, the Reservists working in it and those running it. PA is part of the team, but we also document the mission so we can communicate it to congressional and civic leaders, media and on the global stage. Some of you may not think your role in the Air Force Reserve is a big deal. You could think your "weekend warrior" duties don't make a difference. But let me tell you, they do. Our nation and the Department of Defense, depend 100% on the Air Reserve Component and they can't do it without us pulling the line. Active duty folks don't always understand us, but they too depend on us. We refuel them, augment them, train with them and teach them. Embrace our active duty counterparts and mentor them.

Remember to tell your story. Years will go by, memories will fade but if you tell your piece of the Okie story it can be saved for generations, learned from, and showcased to those leaders in power.

I've met many generations of 507th Reserve Airmen from the Okie reunion club and I can tell you, they have some stories, tall tales some would call them. They too would love to hear your story as the newest generation of Airmen.

Storytelling is not easy for everyone, that’s why Public Affairs is here to help. You all have phones. Take a photo of you and your team working through a problem, fixing a jet, or traveling the world. Then share it with the PA team so they can properly highlight your role, big or small, in the defense of our nation. Call PA and let them know what you have going on during UTA. These little steps can help piece together the history of our unit and help us and others remember 50 years from now what we did and how we made it happen. Then we can laugh about it over a beer when we are all old and gray.

We all join the Air Force Reserve for different reasons; mine was so I could rebalance my family and career. What was your reason for joining the Air Force Reserve? Maybe others could be inspired by your story. Don't forget to tell it.

With that, I close and say goodbye Okies. I tried my best to help tell your story. I’ve gotten to take thousands of photos, write hundreds of reports, wear MOPP gear for hours, and travel the world with you and it has been a true honor. I've loved and sometimes disliked this place, but through all the challenges, inspections, commanders, exercises and deployments, the constant has been the people and the relationships I’ve enjoyed with many of you on the front lines here at Tinker AFB. Stay frosty, team and remember, “Once an Okie, always an Okie.”