Patrick reflects on 35 years of service on eve of retirement

Col. Len Patrick addresses the audience at the change of command ceremony at Lackland AFB, Texas, on Jan. 25. Colonel Patrick has, among other duties, served on four headquarters staffs, including Air Education and Training Command Headquarters at Randolph AFB, prior to becoming the commander of the 37th Training Wing. (USAF photo by Robbin Cresswell)

Col. Len Patrick addresses the audience at the change of command ceremony at Lackland AFB, Texas, on Jan. 25. Colonel Patrick has, among other duties, served on four headquarters staffs, including Air Education and Training Command Headquarters at Randolph AFB, prior to becoming the commander of the 37th Training Wing. (USAF photo by Robbin Cresswell)

Brig. Gen. Len Patrick, 37th Training Wing commander, gets his star embedded into his uniform by his father, Alexander "A.J." Patrick, a retired senior master sergeant and Vietnam veteran, during the general's frocking ceremony Feb. 20. General Patrick took command of the 37th TRW Jan. 25. Special guests at the ceremony included Gen. and Mrs. Bill Looney, Air Education and Training Command commander; Louis Stumberg, civilian aide emeritus to the secretary of the Army, and Col. David Orr, 2nd Air Force vice commander. (USAF photo by Robbin Cresswell)

Brig. Gen. Len Patrick, 37th Training Wing commander, gets his star embedded into his uniform by his father, Alexander "A.J." Patrick, a retired senior master sergeant and Vietnam veteran, during the general's frocking ceremony Feb. 20. General Patrick took command of the 37th TRW Jan. 25. Special guests at the ceremony included Gen. and Mrs. Bill Looney, Air Education and Training Command commander; Louis Stumberg, civilian aide emeritus to the secretary of the Army, and Col. David Orr, 2nd Air Force vice commander. (USAF photo by Robbin Cresswell)

The 37th Training Wing change of command was July 24. Brig. Gen. Len Patrick relinquished command of the 37th TRW to Col. William H. Mott V. General Patrick assumes command of the new 502nd Air Base Wing July 31. (U.S. Air Force photo/Robbin Cresswell)

The 37th Training Wing change of command was July 24. Brig. Gen. Len Patrick relinquished command of the 37th TRW to Col. William H. Mott V. General Patrick assumes command of the new 502nd Air Base Wing July 31. (U.S. Air Force photo/Robbin Cresswell)

Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, incoming 2nd Air Force commander, and Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, outgoing commander, watch the troops as they prepare to march during pass and review following the 2nd Air Force change of command ceremony July 3, 2014, at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.  Brown was previously the Financial Management director, Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Patrick is headed to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, where he will become the AETC vice commander.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, incoming 2nd Air Force commander, and Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, outgoing commander, watch the troops as they prepare to march during pass and review following the 2nd Air Force change of command ceremony July 3, 2014, at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Brown was previously the Financial Management director, Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Patrick is headed to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, where he will become the AETC vice commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, outgoing 2nd Air Force commander, renders a salute as troops march during pass and review following the 2nd Air Force change of command ceremony July 3, 2014, at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.  Patrick is replaced by Brig. Gen. Mark Brown was previously the Financial Management director, Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, outgoing 2nd Air Force commander, renders a salute as troops march during pass and review following the 2nd Air Force change of command ceremony July 3, 2014, at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Patrick is replaced by Brig. Gen. Mark Brown was previously the Financial Management director, Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, outgoing 2nd Air Force commander, renders a salute as troops march during pass and review following the 2nd Air Force change of command ceremony July 3, 2014, at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.  Patrick is replaced by Brig. Gen. Mark Brown was previously the Financial Management director, Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, outgoing 2nd Air Force commander, renders a salute as troops march during pass and review following the 2nd Air Force change of command ceremony July 3, 2014, at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Patrick is replaced by Brig. Gen. Mark Brown was previously the Financial Management director, Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

From left: From a 2016 Fiesta event with Lynne and Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, at far right of photo, are Chief Master Sgt. David Staton, AETC command chief and his wife, Kimberly, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, AETC commander, and his wife, Cheryl. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

From left: From a 2016 Fiesta event with Lynne and Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, at far right of photo, are Chief Master Sgt. David Staton, AETC command chief and his wife, Kimberly, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, AETC commander, and his wife, Cheryl. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, vice commander of Air Education and Training Command, retires here June 3 after 35 years of service.

The general has served 12 years within AETC and will have the chance to celebrate his achievements and memories in Military City USA where he held his first command role.

Patrick entered the Air Force in 1981, but he was no stranger to Air Force life. Son of an Air Force senior master sergeant and civil servant, the general has always lived a life deeply-rooted in the Air Force. Including a year in JROTC and four at the United States Air Force Academy, he has worn the uniform for 40 years.

Patrick has served in various base-level and headquarters assignments and has commanded at the squadron, group, wing, and numbered Air Force levels, and has been a major command director twice. During his career, his assignments have varied, to include a tour with the Education with Industry program at the Illinois State Water Survey at Champaign, two years with the Royal Saudi Air Force performing construction management, and supporting Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as assignments to Korea and Germany. As a civil engineer, Patrick has supported recovery efforts after Hurricane Iwa, during his first active duty assignment at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and later in his career as the AETC command engineer after Hurricane Katrina.

All of his combined experiences have led him to describe his time in service as “diverse.”

“I really thought as a young engineer, I would be in the engineer community forever. I thought that would be the world I would live in … construction management, planning, programming and construction projects,” Patrick said. “Then I was given the opportunity to command a unit, and I gained experience in setting a vision for an organization, giving them the direction and the resources they need to get the job done, then getting out of their way and letting them do it.”

The general said it’s not possible to single out one accomplishment from his career. Instead, he says it is the recollection of teams he has served with, mentors who have shown him the way, and varied missions he had the opportunity to execute that he will take with him into the future.

“It’s like a football game. You have assigned positions, but in the end, the object is to move the ball forward and score a touchdown as a team,” Patrick said.

He said he’s been blessed to have served for eight consecutive AETC commanders in one capacity or another, dating back to 1999 and Gen. Lloyd “Fig” Newton, culminating in his current position as the vice commander first to Gen. Robin Rand and now, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson.

Most of the general’s command assignments have been within AETC. He said that although he served in prior assignments in the command, it wasn’t until he became 37th Training Wing commander at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland that he understood the breadth of the AETC mission.

“It’s easy to observe recruiting, basic training, flying training, and education, but you don’t always see our technical training, or coalition building with our partners at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy or the English instruction we provide our coalition partners so they can work and train beside us,” Patrick said.

Patrick went on to serve as the first 502nd Air Base Wing commander for Joint Base San Antonio and the 2nd Air Force commander at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. He said as his assignments continued in AETC, he realized that the mission of the First Command was the people, not the processes or production.

“I realized that we are the human capital pipeline for our nation’s Air Force. We are involved in the acquisition of systems and equipment, but it’s the people that make the Air Force work,” Patrick said. “We work very hard to attract the talent, develop them, mentor them and let them grow so that they can make the mission happen. We still need weapon systems and infrastructure that supports the mission and the quality of life that our Airmen deserve, but it’s the Airmen that make the mission happen each day.”

The general said as a core civil engineer, he has been given unique opportunities outside of his career field since 2008, and he is thankful to those who trusted him, and paved the way for his opportunities.

“There have been many before me who blazed the trail for Air Force leaders to see civil engineers not just as installation experts, but as officers who have skills beyond installation management,” he said.

The general plans to stay in San Antonio with his wife, Lynne, after his retirement. Maj. Gen. Mark Brown, currently 2nd Air Force commander, is projected to be the next AETC vice commander.