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Schwalier requests retirement

Released: Jul 31, 1997

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- After Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen presented his report, "Personal Accountability for Force Protection at Khobar Towers," Brig. Gen. Terryl J. Schwalier, former commander of the 4404th Wing in Southwest Asia, issued the following statement:

"Over the many months that have been devoted to investigating the Khobar Towers bombing, three things have constantly been in my thoughts.

"First, my overriding emotion is one of sadness for the victims and their families. Our airmen did -- and continue to -- carry out the duties our government sends them to do in faraway places. These duties and places involve risk. We, as Americans, must be proud of them, and support them.

"Second, my strong desire is that the cowards responsible for this tragedy -- the terrorists -- be captured and punished.

"Third, my intense hope is that commanders in the field will not be unduly criticized every time something bad happens.

"Now that Secretary Cohen has announced his decision, those three things remain at the forefront of my thoughts.

"In spite of my disappointment with that decision, I know the 4404th Wing leadership and its people acted aggressively and responsibly in reaction to the known threat during the months before the bombing. Our actions clearly saved lives.

"I am also saddened by the part Secretary Cohen's decision played in the Air Force chief of staff's recent decision to retire. With Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman's departure, the Air Force is losing a leader of great principle.

"Many years ago I resolved that the moment my usefulness to the United States Air Force became limited, I would leave active duty. Accordingly, I have submitted my request for retirement. I am proud of serving the nation and its Constitution for over 28 years, and am grateful for the many experiences and friends those years have brought.

"In departing, I have one message for each Air Force leader -- officer and enlisted:

"In the long run it's not important who on this Earth judges you or how you are judged. It is important to do what's right, to listen to your heart and conscience and to keep the high ground. I have and will walk away with my head high."