Chaplain (Maj.) David Dziolek retired from active duty during a ceremony held June 4 in the Greven Crosswinds Club, at Vance Air Force Base.
Based on service as both an enlisted aircraft maintainer and a chaplain, Dziolek provided the following observations about his Air Force career.
Why did you join the Air Force?
I joined the Air Force delayed enlistment program a week before the start of Desert Storm. I was still a senior in high school. My family has many members of all ranks in the military and I always had a strong desire to be a part of the military team.
The pride and camaraderie within the military and the honor of serving the country I love were the drawing points and have carried me through these years.
What’s your best memory of your first assignment?
When I enlisted I was an aircraft maintainer, and so the thrill of getting out to actually touch and work on some of the most amazing fighter aircraft shaped my best memories. To feel the rumble in your chest when the aircraft was in burner and to know you had a piece in making that happen was extremely rewarding.
I was also privileged to get an incentive ride in the backseat of an F-15E Strike Eagle that I worked on during my first assignment and it was simply exhilarating.
What are 3 reasons you would recommend the AF as a career?
The relationships built as you are teammates with some of the most gifted, talented and best people of character all striving for the common goal in service to our nation is premiere. I have made life-long friends who almost instantly I was willing to trust my life to and give my life for them. Where else can you find these kind of relationships? Friendships that are stronger than some family relationships.
It is an outstanding opportunity to belong to something bigger than yourself. You can really make an impact, if not for the world, certainly for your sphere of influence. The people I have been in contact with and the things I have done throughout my career from an enlisted maintainer to a chaplain has been more than I could have ever imagined growing up as a poor farm boy from Michigan.
I have seen the world and done a lot of things I would never have been able to otherwise and I have been a part of some history making events along the way.
There is a lot of sacrifice, but it is a good life. The job may be tough but the people make up for it. The benefits afforded in the Air Force are a huge plus. I would never have been able to get my master’s degree and do doctoral work without the help and direction of the Air Force.
The Air Force, and of course the Lord, shaped me and matured me to be able to believe in myself and accomplish more than I ever could have imagined.
What advice would you give an airman or lieutenant just starting their AF career?
Watch and learn. Study people. Learn all you can about leadership and how to treat people from customer service to servant leadership. The Air Force is all about taking care of people, whether being a step ahead of the needs of your boss or putting your folks in for awards, take care of them and care for them. Lead!
What is the biggest change you’ve witnessed in the AF?
The biggest change I have seen is the shift of the balance of power throughout our changing world.
I joined when we were still in the Cold War and have seen many uprisings and skirmishes, battles and wars during my time. The security threats have changed from fear of nuclear holocaust to terrorism at our doorstep.
Over those years there has been times when the world looked to America for hope, they cried with us in sadness and shock, and there have been times when the world mocked us. Through it all the Air Force has been consistent and it only serves to solidify the need for a strong Air Force for our future.
It is imperative that this generation of airmen continue to serve with integrity, service and excellence to stand against tyranny and to ensure the next generations have the freedoms we enjoy.