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General Schwartz assumes command of Air Force

Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley prepares to pass the ceremonial Air Force flag to Gen. Norton A. Schwartz during a welcoming ceremony Aug. 12 at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., in honor of General Schwartz.  The general is the 19th Air Force chief of staff.     (Defense Dept. photo/Cherie Cullen)

Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley prepares to pass the ceremonial Air Force flag to Gen. Norton A. Schwartz during a welcoming ceremony Aug. 12 at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., in honor of General Schwartz. The general is the 19th Air Force chief of staff. (Defense Dept. photo/Cherie Cullen)

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz accepts the Air Force flag from Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley Aug. 12 during a welcoming ceremony at Bolling Air Force Base D.C., in honor of General Schwartz.  The general is the 19th Air Force chief of staff.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz accepts the Air Force flag from Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley Aug. 12 during a welcoming ceremony at Bolling Air Force Base D.C., in honor of General Schwartz. The general is the 19th Air Force chief of staff. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz addresses his family and others who attended his welcoming ceremony Aug. 12 at Bolling Air Force Base D.C. General Schwartz is the 19th Air Force chief of staff.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz addresses his family and others who attended his welcoming ceremony Aug. 12 at Bolling Air Force Base D.C. General Schwartz is the 19th Air Force chief of staff. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

The United States Air Force Honor Guard passes in review as Gen. Norton A. Schwartz renders a salute during his welcoming ceremony Aug. 12 at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.  General Schwartz is the 19th Air Force chief of staff.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

The United States Air Force Honor Guard passes in review as Gen. Norton A. Schwartz renders a salute during his welcoming ceremony Aug. 12 at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C. General Schwartz is the 19th Air Force chief of staff. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

WASHINGTON -- The Air Force's 19th chief of staff spoke of mending fences and earning trust in his speech after assuming command of the service during a ceremony here Aug. 12.

"Without trust, we are nothing," Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said to the crowd of about 600 people on the base's ceremonial lawn. "Trust must be earned, yet the American public trusts those in uniform. We will show ourselves worthy of the sacred trust our leaders, our joint brethren and the American people place in us, because this business is all about trust."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley both attended the ceremony, along with friends, family and Airmen who will work for General Schwartz.

"What most people don't know is that General Schwartz and I have something in common: both of us were planning to retire," Secretary Gates said. "I thought Washington D.C. was in my rearview mirror 15 years ago, but circumstances changed and here I am today, able to do unto others what others have done to me."

On June 9, Secretary Gates recommended General Schwartz, who was the U.S. Transportation Command commander, to replace Gen. T. Michael Moseley.

"General Schwartz's leadership qualities make him the right man at the right time [for this job]," he said. "He is one who has lived the core values of Airmen and women: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do."

Shortly before the ceremony, Secretary Gates presented the Defense Distinguished Service Medal to General Schwartz in a private meeting with the officer's family. He also presented the general's wife, Suzie Schwartz, with the Distinguished Public Service Award for her work with Airmen, families and wounded warriors.

"We thank Suzie for her support of families," said Secretary Donley, "We are grateful she's at his side to continue to improve the lives of our Airmen."

Prior to becoming chief of staff, General Schwartz spent nearly three years as commander of Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he was the single manager for global air, land and sea transportation for the Defense Department.

General Schwartz began his Air Force career in 1973 after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor's degree in political science and international affairs. During his 35-year career, he has logged more than 4,400 flying hours in a variety of aircraft and participated in war and peacetime operations in Vietnam, Iraq and Cambodia.

He served in several other command assignments, including Special Operations Command Pacific, Alaskan Command, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, and 11th Air Force. He also served as director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.