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News > Retiring wing director emphasizes importance of all contributions
Colonel preparing for retirement
Col. Derrick M. Richardson, 554th Electronic Systems acting wing director, reviews his schedule with Danielle Opalka (center), executive officer, and Elizabeth Payne, executive assistant, May 19. Colonel Richardson is preparing to retire from the Air Force after more than 27 years of service. A retirement ceremony will be held June 4 at 1 p.m. at the Hanscom Minuteman Club. (Photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)
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Retiring wing director emphasizes importance of all contributions

Posted 6/1/2010   Updated 6/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/1/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Providing an environment where people feel like they are a truly integral part of the team, ensuring all voices are heard, and being a mentor and coach are some of the impacts the retiring 554th Electronic Systems acting wing director, Col. Derrick M. Richardson, said he hoped he had achieved.

"Each individual's contribution - no matter how small - is significant and necessary for us to effectively field and sustain the combat mission support information technology capability we provide," he said.

Throughout his 27-year career, Colonel Richardson worked in a variety of acquisition positions, including aircraft, weapons, propulsion and space launch systems, but before he arrived at the Electronic Systems Center in 2007, he had had never worked in information technology.

Freely admitting he had "no clue" about what the organization did when he was first contacted to be the vice director, Colonel Richardson said it wasn't until Senior Executive Service member Frank Weber, the 554 ELSW director at the time, mentioned the Air Force Portal (part of the Global Combat Support System-Air Force) that he made the connection that the organization was about combat and mission support IT systems.

"The systems our wing provides are the 'behind-the-scenes' systems," the colonel said. "But they're the very ones you notice when they're not available -- things like whether members and force structure bills get paid or contracts are awarded, whether our personnel have the appropriate credentials and correct assignments or whether our PCs are configured properly."

With the 554 ELSW consisting of nearly 1,800 people geographically separated across five different states, Colonel Richardson said there's a premium on effectively communicating to ensure everyone is on the same page.

"We have a tremendous group of professionals, whether they're working financial management, contracting, or business systems in Dayton; personnel systems in San Antonio; enterprise services support, software application security, or integration and test at Gunter; or here in the Boston area working system/installation security, shared computing services or new personnel/pay system development," he said. "And it's been a phenomenal experience helping make all the pieces come together in support of our world-wide customers."

Colonel Richardson's jobs at the 554th were also his first acquisition positions that involved owning programs throughout their lifecycle, from cradle-to-grave.

"Being in an acquisition organization that's sometimes known as 'The IT Depot' really broadens your perspective," he said. "From the day you are tasked with developing the system you have to think through all the lifecycle elements because you know you will also be responsible for maintaining the system and any iterative upgrades."

Wing successes during the colonel's tenure include: obtaining full operational capability designation for the wing's IT infrastructure workhorse, Global Combat Support System-Air Force, with more than 900,000 users; instant messaging for friends and family (key to supporting deployed members and their families); web-based workforce career development plans; enterprise network-centric products and solutions available via Network Centric Solutions (NETCENTS and NETCENTS-2) contract vehicles; new force protection security systems installed in Iraq and Afghanistan; positive inventory control capability to provide serial number tracking for our nuclear enterprise; and fielding U.S. Transportation Command's financial enterprise resource planning system (Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System).

Known for having a number of sayings, Colonel Richardson said one that he would like folks to remember is, "If you do what you did, you'll get what you got."

"Just because it's what you've done in the past, doesn't mean it best fits to meet today's mission needs," he said, reiterating the point. "We must never stop working to find new, more creative ways to get things done."

"I truly believe acquisition jobs test how creative we can be as our very resourceful people drive our defense enterprise to great success. I just hope I've helped create, in some small way, a landscape where our people feel empowered to use their innovative skills to find smarter, more beneficial ways to deliver mission capability to our customers and warfighters around the globe."

His retirement ceremony will be held June 4 at 1 p.m. at Hanscom's Minuteman Club. A retirement dinner will be held June 3 at the Colonial Inn in Concord, Mass.

For a post-military career, Colonel Richardson said he hasn't decided anything yet. He would like to continue to explore and keep all his options open, although he and his family are relocating to Niceville, Fla.

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