Farewell Q&A with 30th SW command chief

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kyla Gifford
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bedell, 30th Space Wing command chief, retired June 29, 2017, after 29 years of service.

Bedell sat down before his retirement for some final words to the base to share years of experience and expertise with fellow Airmen one final time as a command chief.


  • What were your goals when you first took the command chief role here?

“When I took the command chief role here my main goal was focusing on all the changes the enlisted force was going through. Implementing the Enlisted Evaluation System, enlisted Professional Military Education, and Developmental Special Duty. So that really was my focus, to get us transitioned to all these new enlisted programs. To make sure that commanders were ready, raters were ready, and enlisted members were ready for the changes. I believe now we’ve done that. There are still processes of improvement in place, but as it stands right now we’re moving forward and we know what is expected, and I think we’re doing really well.”

  • How does it feel to be retiring after 29 years serving your country?

“It’s surreal. I’ve wanted to be an Airman since I was 11, that’s when I made the decision. People ask, ‘What do you want to be, now that you’re done in the Air Force?’ Well, this is all I wanted to do, I just wanted to be an Airman and be in the Air Force. I was recently hired to be an instructor for an Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps position, so I get to continue being an Airman and mentor high school students as they go out into society and hopefully make them better leaders and professionals. It makes this transition a lot easier for me because I’m not hanging up the uniform permanently.”

  • What will you remember most about Vandenberg and the Airmen here?

“In the beginning of my time here on Vandenberg I got to go around base and learn the ropes at each different job. When the Airmen get to explain their job and where it all fits, they have this sense of pride in what they do. When you see a successful launch and all the work that went into making that successful, you know it took a lot of hard work from Airmen who are proud of their job. This is one of those bases that you’re just proud to be on the team.”

  • What is an interesting fact about space that you learned during your time at Vandenberg?

“I’m an intercontinental ballistic missile maintainer, so I’ve known space for some time. I was always focused on the booster and the payload and the processing, I didn’t look into where the wing came into it. That was what was opened up to me during this tour, was to see all the different personnel running all the actions behind the scenes. That was amazing to me.”

  • Are there any lessons that you learned over the years?

“First off, set goals. For a majority of my career I was just enjoying being an Airman. I was diligent and very good at my job, but there was no focus or goal because my goal was to be an Airman. So when I was already fulfilling that, what’s next? Looking back, yes I’m blessed to be the 30th Space Wing command chief, but there are a lot of things that I wish I’d accomplished, but didn’t, because I didn’t set a goal. I could have fulfilled so much more. Second, live your life beyond reproach. We talk about integrity first, but you should implement it to the point where your decisions negate any perceptions of wrongdoing. When we make mistakes, because everyone does, just own up to them and learn from them. It will give people confidence in your integrity. This is something that was instilled in me as a child, and has served me well throughout the years.”

  • As your Air Force career comes to an end, what effect do you hope you’ve left on the Air Force community?

“That you don’t need to be an old crusty chief, and you don’t have to demean people to lead. You can have a positive approach, make people smile every day, and encourage them. I hope through my example that other people move forward with a positive outlook and that their office encourages them throughout the day to do what is right. Nobody wants to come to work when there is a negative atmosphere. I would hope that, that’s the influence I have left, to have more of an optimistic point of view and a positive approach.”

  • What are your future plans?

“My family and I are relocating back home to a little town of Bangor, Pennsylvania. That’s where my wife and I met in high school. We’ll be on the east coast, in the hub of all of our family. I got a job standing up a brand new Air Force Junior ROTC program at Mount Olive High School, in Flanders, New Jersey. I will be their lead Aerospace science instructor, and I just got word that we have 80 students enrolled, which is very exciting. A lot of work ahead of me, but it’s exciting work. Now I get to teach Air Force principles in developing young students. These are high school students who are going through a lot, and I’m looking forward to being their mentor and encourager. I want to develop them into meaningful contributors to society, and that’s what they’ll be when they get done with our program.”

  • What are your final words of advice to Airmen everywhere?

“Whatever job or task that you’re assigned to do, focus on doing it to the best of your ability. It should never be just ‘good enough’, make sure that your product represents who you are. I believe that this is why Rob Bedell got to be command chief. Whatever job I did I never looked to the next job, I focused on being the best at that job that I could be. When we say ‘Excellence in all you do’, what is your level of excellence? If you’re just trying to check a box, is it really excellent? Or just good enough. If you short change your task then you are short changing your career, because you are going to be known for the quality of your workmanship. That is something you can live by as an Airman basic and you can live by as a chief.”