San Angelo Rotary Club hosts luncheon for Goodfellow members

U.S. Air Force Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander, gives a speech during a luncheon at a restaurant in San Angelo, Texas, Jan. 5, 2017. Mills spoke to the San Angelo Rotary Club to communicate Goodfellow Air Force Base’s mission and introduce five of Goodfellow’s top students.

U.S. Air Force Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander, gives a speech during a luncheon at a restaurant in San Angelo, Texas, Jan. 5, 2017. Mills spoke to the San Angelo Rotary Club to communicate Goodfellow Air Force Base’s mission and introduce five of Goodfellow’s top students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Randall Moose/Released)

Goodfellow Air Force Base members join San Angelo Rotary Club members as they recite The Four Way Test during a luncheon at a restaurant in San Angelo, Texas, Jan. 5, 2017. The Rotary club uses The Four Way Test as a moral, personal and business code for decision making.

Goodfellow Air Force Base members join San Angelo Rotary Club members as they recite The Four Way Test during a luncheon at a restaurant in San Angelo, Texas, Jan. 5, 2017. The Rotary club uses The Four Way Test as a moral, personal and business code for decision making. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Randall Moose/Released)

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Rajeev Stephens, 315th Training Squadron trainee, stands to be introduced during a luncheon at a restaurant in San Angelo, Texas, Jan. 5, 2017. Stephens was one of the top five 17th Training Groups students for Dec. 2017.

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Rajeev Stephens, 315th Training Squadron trainee, stands to be introduced during a luncheon at a restaurant in San Angelo, Texas, Jan. 5, 2017. Stephens was one of the top five 17th Training Groups students for Dec. 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Randall Moose/Released)

SAN ANGELO, Texas --

Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander, spoke to the San Angelo Rotary Club to communicate Goodfellow Air Force Base’s mission and introduce five of Goodfellow AFB’s top students Jan. 5.

“Opportunities like this give me the chance to interact with our San Angelo family which is second to none in the support you have graciously given to Goodfellow Air Force Base,” said Mills. “Having graduated as a Central Bobcat, I know that San Angelo has and will continue to be a place that loves our military members. I am honored to be the base commander in the company of such remarkable civic leaders.”

Mills gave his speech to provide the San Angelo Rotary Club insight to Goodfellow AFB’s involvement in the defense of America and its interests.

“With the increasing complexity of the global security environment, the United States Air Force has adapted to these emerging threats while maintaining an advantage over our traditional or conventional enemies,” said Mills. “We remain committed to discovering new avenues to meet the challenges presented by our adversaries.” 

This willingness to adapt and overcome any challenge began in 1940, when San Angelo offered to host an Air Corps Flying School.

“Leasing 640 acres to the US War Department for $1 per year and even provided sewage, electrical and railroad service at no additional cost,” said Mills. “From that, Goodfellow Air Force Base was born.”

In the early 1940’s, Concho Valley native Jack Mathis trained as a bombardier at Goodfellow AFB.

“In March, 1943, he was his squadron’s lead bombardier on his 14th combat mission with the heralded 8th Air Force when he was hit with an anti-aircraft shell over Germany,” said Mills. “Despite mortal wounds, he stayed on his bombsight and led the bombing raid with great precision.  He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery.”

Just 2 decades later, in the early 1960’s, Mills' father trained on Goodfellow AFB and later flew combat sorties on the RC-135 Rivet Joint as an Airborne Cryptologic Analyst. 

“In the mid-1990’s, after graduating from Central High School and then the top institute of higher learning in this great state, A&M, I too trained at Goodfellow Air Force Base,” said Mills. “I became an Intelligence Officer and followed my father’s footsteps flying combat sorties in the RC-135.”

Mills still uses his training as Goodfellow’s commander.

“So, I can attest to the incredible community of San Angelo and the world-class training at Goodfellow Air Force Base,” said Mills. ”The training I received ensured I was well prepared for the challenges ahead.”

Today, Goodfellow’s mission is to “Train, Develop, and Inspire Exceptional Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance and Fire Protection Professionals for America and Her Allies.”

“Preparing them as we do would not be possible without the partnerships we enjoy with this community, like we have with the Rotary Club,” said Mills. “The monthly luncheon where you host five of our best and brightest, it inspires them, thank you.

They return to the classroom motivated, knowing there are American’s like you willing to shake their hand, pat them on the back and say a simple West Texas thanks.”

One of the students, 2nd Lt. Rajeev Stephens, 315th Training Squadron trainee, appreciated the luncheon.

“To be honest, it is very humbling,” said Stephens. “The feeling, the heartfelt welcome, the earnest conversations, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. And the genuine appreciation is incredible and I am very thankful for it.”

Mills finished the luncheon with thanks.

“I truly have enjoyed this opportunity,” said Mills. “Thank you for all you have done, since World War I, to keep our nation safe. I want to especially thank you for hosting our Students of the Month on a regular basis.  Through your generosity and support, Goodfellow and San Angelo will continue to be a championship team. I look forward to my next opportunity to fellowship with you again.”