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12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief retires

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Chief Master Sgt. Lloyd Hollen (left), 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief, recieves the colors during his retirement ceremony here Aug 14.  Chief Hollen retired after nearly 29 years of active service.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittany Dowdle)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Chief Master Sgt. Lloyd Hollen (left), 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief, recieves the colors during his retirement ceremony here Aug 14. Chief Hollen retired after nearly 29 years of active service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittany Dowdle)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Chief Master Sgt. Lloyd Hollen (middle right), 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief, stands with his wife Carol, and their two sons, Terry (left), an Airman 1st Class imagery analyst at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and Greg (right), a Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Major at Florida State University.  Chief Hollen retired Aug. 14 after nearly 29 years of active service.  His sons emceed the retirement ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittany Dowdle)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Chief Master Sgt. Lloyd Hollen (middle right), 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief, stands with his wife Carol, and their two sons, Terry (left), an Airman 1st Class imagery analyst at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and Greg (right), a Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Major at Florida State University. Chief Hollen retired Aug. 14 after nearly 29 years of active service. His sons emceed the retirement ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brittany Dowdle)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Chief Master Sgt. Lloyd Hollen, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief, retired from active duty Aug. 14 after nearly 29 years of service. 

Chief Hollen's two sons, Greg, a Reserve Officer Training Corps major cadet at Florida State University, and Terry, an Airman 1st Class imagery analyst at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., emceed the event. 

Chief Hollen grew up in Ashville, Pa., and entered the Air Force in 1981. Chief Hollen actually studied to be a bricklayer in high school. Working half-days at a vocational high school, the industrious teenager dreamed of one day enlisting in the military. He never thought he would become the senior enlisted advisor at a command representing one-sixth of the world's land mass. 

"If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would become a numbered Air Force command chief, I would have sent them to mental health," he joked. 

His lengthy career includes tours in the Security Forces and Intelligence career fields. Chief Hollen also served six years as a first sergeant. His assignments include bases in Delaware, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Virginia, Korea, RAF Alconbury, RAF Mildenhall, and the Pentagon. Before assuming his current position, he served as the Command Chief for the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. He and his wife Carol will retire to Tampa, Fla.

"When you look back at your career, what should stick out are the people you've helped along the way," he said. "If all the people you've helped reach their goals, then your career is a success. To those Airmen who are career oriented, I would say enjoy every day and take care of each other. Truly we are a family."

One of the chief's well-known greetings is, "It's a great day to be an Airman!" Now that he's turning in his stripes to begin a new life in the civilian sector, he said the thing he will miss most are the men and women who he has served beside for nearly three decades.

"It's tough to move on," the 49-year-old Pennsylvania native said, "when the only life you've ever really known is over. It's bittersweet. It's really hard to say goodbye. What worries me most is losing touch with the people in uniform. I'll never be one of those people who retires and says, 'I never want to go back.' 

"I have always told people, 'It's a great day to be an Airman!' Now I will say that it's been a great career to have been called 'Airman' in the United States Air Force."

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