By Col. David “Bull” Kirkendall, Deputy Commander, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Commander, 647th Air Base Group
As my June 19 change of command approaches, I wanted to take some time to share some thoughts on my time here at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
First off, I’d like to say, thank you. Installation support activities, and certainly harbor operations, were not things I was familiar with prior to assuming command of the 647th Air Base Group and assuming my role as the Joint Base deputy commander.
I want to thank all of the men and women—both Air Force and Navy, active duty and civilian—who took the time to teach me what I needed to know and who were very patient with me as I asked a LOT of questions.
The men and women who support the mission of the Joint Base are simply amazing. They do literally thousands of things every day that go largely unnoticed, from ensuring the lights are on and water is flowing, to providing security and personnel support, to executing logistics operations and communications support. Each and every day, we operate a small city: billeting, entertainment, transportation of visiting personnel. United States and foreign dignitaries and heads of state happen here with incredible frequency.
The things that just seem to “happen” and we take for granted are what these amazing Airmen, Sailors and civilians do each and every day, 24 hours a day. It was my distinct honor and privilege to serve alongside of these amazing people. Our mission at the installation wouldn’t be complete without mentioning numerous supporting activities that ensure mission accomplishment and quality of life.
The Joint Base Chapel, Navy Exchange, Federal Fire Department Hawaii, Defense Commissary Agency and Military Family Support Center, to name a few, are critical to our mission and support of our families. It is through incredible teamwork and unity of effort that we manage the scope and complexity of the missions of this base.
Many times people asked me if I felt like I was losing my Air Force identity as a result of the command structure here at the base. It seems that those who have not had the opportunity to see things through the lens that we do at the installation feel that there must be a choice. Many people feel that it is either Air Force or Navy and they never seem to consider that there is another way.
We strive to tackle the issues of the installation the best way we can—and service parochialism doesn’t hamper us. Each and every day, we remain committed to the mission of the entire Joint Base and work through tough problems to ensure that all of our activities and commands receive the support they need to accomplish their missions.
What I will remember the most are the amazing people who dedicated themselves each and every day to making their part of the base just a little bit better— those who refused to accept the status quo, those who challenged conventional service means and methods to find a better way.
I will cherish the times I had sharing in the immense historical significance of this base, and I will forever carry a greater understanding of the word sacrifice. I know there are some things we improved, and I know there are some things I wanted to get done, and ran out of time.
The great thing is, the mission of the base will keep moving forward as new personnel arrive to pick up where we left off. As always, the base is in great hands, and it won’t skip a beat. That’s because of all of you.
Thanks for everything, and I look forward to seeing you in the future.
(Col. Bull Kirkendall will be relieved by Col. Richard (“Renzy”) Smith during a change of command ceremony at 8:30 a.m. June 19 at the Missing Man Formation Memorial at JBPHH. Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, will be the guest speaker.)