MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. --
Friends, family and colleagues celebrated the retirement of Lt. Col. Steve Silver, 129th Operations Group Commander, during an informal gathering Saturday at the 129th Rescue Wing. During his 28-year career, Silver flew HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters at the 129th from 1994 to 1998, and returned in 2008 as Inspector General before his 2012 promotion to Group Commander.
An '86 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Silver was first stationed at Beale Air Force Base, where he piloted Lockheed U-2 "Dragon Ladies" and served as an instructor for T-37 aircraft. During that time, he also deployed to Korea and Saudi Arabia on reconnaissance missions.
"As a traditional commander, I commanded 24/7, and took that responsibility very seriously," Silver said. "I am very proud of my service as a citizen-Airman. I am proud of the professionalism of all the Airmen at the 129th. The constant has been that the role as both a citizen and an Airman are inseparable."
During Silver's tenure as the 129th Ops Group commander, the wing produced a number of notable achievements: numerous long-range open-water civilian saves; the rapid mobilization of more than 100 guardsmen to the East Coast to assist with Hurricane Sandy rescue efforts; nearly 211,000 gallons of water dropped from precision bucket drop missions to battle the Rim Wildfire; and the rescue of an Afghan national policeman who suffered a gunshot wound while Guardsmen from the 129th were deployed, marking the 1,000th save in the wing's history.
"The last couple years have been a big highlight--the opportunity to command, work with different weapon systems, all the facets on base that contribute to the mission. I think our motto says everything: 'So that others may live.' It's a selfless service."
Silver said that what he has enjoyed most about the Air National Guard is the chance to lead in a variety of roles, from state to federal missions. For him, the challenge was to maintain the right "operation tempo", especially during an era of sequestration and shifting priorities.
Silver has piloted Boeing 747s for United Airlines (UA) on the civilian side since 1992. For his next act, he will fly for UA full-time. He says that he plans to stay involved with the 129th and its Alumni Association in a mentorship capacity.
"Flying planes is only one piece of the Air Force mission, but I feel fortunate to have been on the operation side and contributed to that realm. And the people are great here. It's a family atmosphere. Hopefully we'll stay in touch."
For more information about the unit, contact 2nd Lt. Roderick Bersamina, public affairs officer, at 650-603-9152, or visit the wing's website at www.129rqw.ang.af.mil.