Col. Alvin Strait (Retired) congratulates Lt. Col. Bob Orwig at his retirement ceremony Dec. 16.

My co-commander at Peterson Air Force base had his retirement ceremony last week. Lt. Col. Robert Orwig Jr. spent 22 years serving our country in the Air Force.

Bob’s first assignment was deputy missile combat crew commander with the 373rd Strategic Missile Wing in Little Rock, Ark., where he worked with Titan 11 intercontinental ballistic missiles. His last assignment was deputy commander of the 21st Maintenance Group 21st Space Wing.

The ceremony was the perfect balance of laughter and tears. Retired Col. Alvin Strait was the presiding official.

What really hit home with me is the closeness and family feel of the Air Force. Several enlisted airmen drove in from other states to honor Bob. They had served with him in Greenland at Thule Air Force Base. They explained the tradition Bob started of a “mug and a hug” at Thule; Bob gave everyone who was leaving the installation a coffee mug and then a hug.

The slide show of Bob’s career was a real catalyst for some tears. It made me realize more than I ever have the sacrifices that our military members make, especially foregoing family events when they are away. There wasn’t a dry eye (OK, maybe a couple) in the audience as the slide show documented a young Bob, when he joined the Air Force, through his various assignments, the birth of his two beautiful daughters and his marriage to wife, Lorri.

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My experience as a co-commander has been a good one. It has given me insight into the great folks at Peterson, and I want to emphasize how close knit these people are.

Bob’s father was also in the Air Force. When it was time during the ceremony for Bob to speak, he related that his father was the first person to salute him when he received his commission in 1983. Bob’s father passed away in August. Bob tearfully stated, “He was my hero.”

Lorri spoke about a time when she was ironing Bob’s uniform and did it wrong – intentionally. This was a source of jokes and laughter throughout the event.

If you have ever met Bob, you know he spends time in the weight room. This also was part of the good-natured roasting.

While Bob accomplished a lot in his career, I got the impression that he never lost sight of or forgot about his family. Being a family man came across loud and clear. Bob’s three siblings came from as far away as Florida to attend the ceremony.

Included in the program was an excerpt from “The Silent Patriots” that I think sums up nicely what I was fortunate enough to experience.

A family for all season’s a family of today! They grow to meet the challenges and grow along the way. Their lives are not easy, with many loads to bear. They proudly serve with their husband/father and in the uniform he wears. Although they didn’t take the oath to preserve democracy, they are there each day on the home front to keep our country free. They’re the ones who keep going through adversity and pain. They’re the steady, strong foundation when nothing stays the same. They’re the ones that shed the tears as Old Glory passes by, but couldn’t give an answer if you were to ask them why. Throughout the years, they marched on through the tears and joy and strife. They are America’s unsung heroes – They’re the military Family.

Congratulations, Bob, on your retirement, but mostly on your career, your family and your accomplishments.

CSBJ Corporate Golf League

On another front, the CSBJ Corporate Golf League is filling fast with already 27 players signed up.

Mercedes Benz of Colorado Springs is the presenting sponsor in 2006. Jeff Steinke, general manager, a pretty good golfer in his own right, will be joining us. You never know what kind of fun will be had.

Call Tessa Nelson at 329-5230 for information.

Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at lon.matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.