February 12, 2010
General Pawlikowski assumes command of Air Force Research Laboratory
2/18/2010 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Maj. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski became the new commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory at a Feb. 12 change-of-command ceremony at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. She replaced Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, the AFRL commander for more than two years. General Bedke also received the Legion of Merit upon his retirement after more than 30 years of Air Force service.
Nearly 500 people attended the ceremony in the museum's Modern Flight Gallery. The Air Force Band of Flight provided the music, the base color guard presented the flag, and Lisa Miller, a friend of the Bedke family, sang the national anthem.
Presiding over the ceremony was Gen. Donald J. Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command. General Hoffman praised AFRL and its people stating they are "on the cutting edge of technology, not just for the Air Force, but for the nation and the world at large."
General Hoffman thanked General Bedke for his service, and congratulated General Pawlikowski not only for her new assignment, but also for her work as head of the airborne laser program. The program had a successful demonstration just one day prior to the ceremony.
The change of command followed, and the new AFRL commander spoke. General Pawlikowski, who left a previous AFRL assignment in 1993, said that it was "good to be home." She called AFRL "a place where dreams become a reality," and told General Bedke, "You can and should be proud. There are Airmen alive today because of what you've done."
General Pawlikowski recalled some of the history of Wright-Patterson and its pioneering efforts. She also referred briefly to the "laser engagement of a booster missile," and observed that "problems never have final solutions." She concluded her comments saying, "Our Air Force in 2010 depends upon scientific breakthroughs. AFRL's mission is to nurture that curiosity (leading to the breakthroughs)." She added, "The hunt is on."
General Hoffman then presented the Legion of Merit, second oak leaf cluster, to General Bedke in recognition of his "outstanding service as commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, Calif.," and as commander of AFRL. General Hoffman pointed out General Bedke's contributions at AFFTC during the F-22 development phase, preparation for the F-35 test program, and support of 90 other programs "during the longest period of fatality free test flying." For General Bedke's efforts at AFRL, General Hoffman praised him for "leading the Air Force into the future."
General Bedke's retirement ceremony then took place. It included letters of appreciation from President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz and Ohio Gov. George Strickland.
"I've been in the Air Force my entire life," said General Bedke recalling being in his mother's arms while watching his father taxi on a runway.
He said he grew up when he was "six or seven years old" when his father took him to Dachau. There, he said, "I found out there's evil in this world and good—and good people who have to take a stand." These instances and others inspired him to join the Air Force.
General Bedke praised the selection of General Pawlikowski, spoke about his love of family, his career -- particularly "the two best jobs in the Air Force: commander of AFFTC and of AFRL," and his plans for the future that included staying in Washington, D.C., to visit "museums, art galleries, etc."
He summed up by saying, "The nation needs us, and we're prepared to do more. If we lose, the nation loses. Evil can only be stopped in good people are willing to make sacrifices. We will get through tough times because we must. We fight to ensure that the world will be a better place even for the children of our enemies."
General Pawlikowski said that she expected the "greatest challenge" in her new assignment would be the "full integration of airspace and cyberspace." She briefly described her five years as manager of the airborne laser program, and concluded that she expected a "smooth transition" into the position as AFRL commander.
by Mike Wallace
88th Air Base Wing Skywrighter staff