Leader Blues

Monday, October 01, 2007

TOP STORY >>It’s Gen. Schatz after ceremony

Leader staff writer

The list of family and friends in attendance at the promotion ceremony Friday afternoon honoring Little Rock Air Force Base commander Col. Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr., as he was promoted to brigadier general, was as long as the list of local dignitaries and government officials present during the standing-room-only ceremony.

Four-star Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander of U.S. Transportation Command at Scott AFB, Ill. and a previous LRAFB squadron commander, was the host of Friday’s event at the conference center, something he described as “a treat” that he gets to do from time to time.

“What we do today is unique and special, because in our country, it is the civilian leadership that decides the who, what and why of our military operations. It is an obligation and responsibility called upon those who serve in the senior ranks of our services to assist our civilian leaders with the when and how,” Schwartz said.

“This is a profound obligation and today is certainly Suzie’s and my pleasure to be part of a ceremony that recognizes Kim and Wayne as he pins on brigadier general in the Air Force,” he said.

Schwartz was referring to his wife Suzie, a Jacksonville High School graduate, and Schatz’s wife Kim, who started dating after they met at a Burger King at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

Schwartz added it was a wonderful day for Schatz’s family and a great day for the armed forces, especially having a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, in attendance, proving the pin-on ceremony was “no trivial deal.”

“It’s a meaningful moment to come and pin Wayne Schatz to rank of brigadier general in the Air Force. What a thrill it is to be a part of this lovely moment,” Schwartz said.

After the reading of the promotion orders, Schatz’s wife and his mother Evelyn pinned on his new rank insignia worn on his service dress jacket. His children, Marissa and Wayne, then replaced the epaulets (shoulder insignia) worn on his shirt.
Army Reserve Lt. Col. (retired) Don LaBrie, Schatz’s uncle, readministered the oath of commissioning to his nephew. LaBrie commissioned second lieutenant Schatz on June 1, 1983.

The newly promoted brigadier general said he was deeply honored by those in attendance for his promotion as he thanked the men and women of Little Rock Air Force Base and the surrounding communities for their support, as well as everyone else who helped him become a general.

“We have just tremendous community support here at Little Rock Air Force Base. It is so much of a blessing. You all shower your love and support in the local communities on our airmen here,” Schatz said.

Turning to Schwartz, the new general said it was special to have him at the ceremony. “There is no one else I would prefer to do this for us (than Schwartz),” he said.

And because “it takes a village to make a flag officer,” Schatz took time to thank his family, both immediate and extended, for their support and help in making it happen.

To Team Little Rock, Schatz said working every day with all of them is a great experience.

“We get a chance to come to work every day and serve with the greatest group of people, I think, the world has ever seen. As I look around the room and I look at all of you, I hope you get the same sense of awe and the same sense of love when you go see the people at work and get to spend time with all of you. That is really what it’s all about and what makes it special for us. That is why we have stayed and have answered the call of service and do what we do,” Schatz said in closing.