Preparing to retire, colonel encourages others to take on challenges |
Posted 6/24/2011 Updated 6/24/2011
by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
6/24/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- As Col. Russ Fellers, Cyber/Integration Division deputy, prepares to retire from the Air Force after serving for more than 24 years, six here at the Electronic Systems Center, he encourages personnel to take advantage of opportunities.
"I've had a fantastic career in the Air Force," he said. "The opportunities have been so exciting and interesting. For younger troops, who don't really yet know or understand what opportunities are out there for them, I say 'Feed your curiosity, take on challenges - you never know where they will take you.'"
Colonel Fellers speaks from experience. Just a few of the roles he has held during his career include working in a laboratory on laser physics, serving as an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) operator and participating in Operation Desert Storm, along with other contingency operations. He also served overseas at NATO.
Additionally, his roles at ESC have been diverse.
"I arrived here right when AFMC [Air Force Materiel Command] was converting to wings, groups and squadrons," Colonel Fellers said. "It was a thrill to be able to stand up a squadron from the start."
During his first job at ESC, the colonel stood up the 635th Electronic Systems Squadron (AWACS). He said the squadron was able to accomplish great things, including being the nominee from AFMC for the Agile Acquisition Team of the year.
From there, he moved on to assignments in the program executive group and mission planning. Also during that time, Colonel Fellers volunteered for a deployment to Iraq, which provided another unique opportunity.
"It was an eye-opening experience and a real honor," he said. "I was an individual augmentee embedded with Navy and Army personnel and civilians to provision troops during the surge. Something like 12 billion dollars in requirements came across my desk."
The position the colonel is retiring from is one that he was uncertain about at the start but became a favorite.
"When General Bowlds asked me to take over a troubled program that was being restructured, trying to get it back on track, I knew nothing about the program office or their IT work," Colonel Fellers said. "But it's been really exciting and dynamic and I've loved every minute of it."
He is proud of how far the program office has matured and the teamwork that allowed the program office to be turned around.
"If we stop and look back two years ago, there's a night and day difference," he said. "And if you ask our major command, Air Force Space Command, or our user, 24th Air Force, they will tell you they have a more positive relationship with the program office than ever before."
And the job that he was unsure of will be leading Colonel Fellers into his civilian role.
"This job was so much one of my favorites that for the future I'm looking to stay in the cyber/IT realm," he said.
The colonel will be going on terminal leave July 5 with an official retirement date of Oct. 31.
Although sad to be leaving the Air Force, Colonel Fellers said the opportunities have been amazing and he's been able to meet and work with great people.
"At the end of the day looking back at accomplishments or the places you've been, the first thing that comes to mind is the people - the people you work with or work for - that's what you take with you."