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Service celebration: Wing honors former commander who honors others

  • Published
  • 162nd Wing

MORRIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ariz. – The 162nd Wing’s former commander retired with a unique ceremony at Morris Air National Guard Base, Jan. 10, after 34 years of service.

Brig. Gen. Andrew J. MacDonald served the state of Arizona for more than 20 years.  After relinquishing command of the 162nd Wing in April 2020, MacDonald led COVID-19 response efforts statewide as the Arizona National Guard Joint Task Force Commander.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the wing could not hold a traditional celebration.  Instead, the unit held an outdoor ceremony honoring MacDonald’s service, limiting attendance to family and distinguished guests, in person, while live-streaming the event for others to attend virtually.

During the ceremony, MacDonald described how the service and resilience of others enabled him to have a long-lasting career.

“This retirement is not about me, it is about everyone else,” said MacDonald.  “I have been prepping and trying to figure out what to say and I would like to thank everyone who has enabled me to have the career that I have.”

MacDonald went on to recognize leaders and mentors, and he delivered a special message to fellow military members that served with him throughout his career, who continue to serve.

“Resiliency is very important, especially right now in the times that we are in,” MacDonald said.  “Service before self is important, but it is not service to detriment of self.  You have to remember that everybody at one time or another has to take a knee, and it is our job as wingmen to help each other stand back up because resiliency is working together.”

In recognition of service beyond the uniform, MacDonald asked his wife Rosalyn to join him on stage. 

“I don’t think anyone can measure a spouse’s service and what they do, but I am going to try my best,” MacDonald said.  “Throughout my career, I am the one that has gotten medals along the way, and I am the one that gets fussed about while she has never gotten anything.”

Traditionally, a medal is presented to one’s spouse at a retirement ceremony, but MacDonald presented his wife with a unique spouse service medal to honor those that don’t ask to serve, but proudly serve as military spouses.

MacDonald began his military career after commissioning with the Marine Corps at Quantico, Va., in 1987. He graduated flight school and earned his Naval Aviator wings at Meridian Mississippi Naval Air Station in October 1990. He served in numerous training and operational assignments in the EA-6B Prowler and TA-4 Skyhawk before joining the Arizona Air National Guard in 1998. He is a command pilot with more than 4,600 flying hours.