Fort Rucker - As General Crutchfield took to the air Friday afternoon for his last flight, there was a mixture of wind, cheers, and tears amongst those waiting to bid farewell to the Fort Rucker commanding general.
Crutchfield said he’s sad to see his time run out in the Wiregrass.
“It’s like a security blanket being here. The people around us are wonderful and they’re genuine. When they say they support us and they love us, they mean it,” he said.
Crutchfield has been flying the Apache helicopter since 1986. He said during his last flight, all he thought about was flying, but once he landed it was a different story.
“I was thinking about how sad it is that I’m leaving. I was thinking about not being drowned. I was thinking about I hope I was nice to my wife yesterday,” he said.
For those waiting in line to shake his hand or hug his neck, they were thinking about the difference Crutchfield has made at Fort Rucker in the past two years.
“He got us back in the right direction as far as the development of our officers go. Other than that he’s just a good person who is truly sincere and passionate about his career and his people,” said Chief Warrant Officer Mike Reese.
With soldiers waiting to be trained, Crutchfield is most proud of eliminating the backlog that had existed for nearly 8 years. He said getting soldiers trained rapidly kept others from extra deployments.
However, he was quick to point out Fort Rucker is being left in great hands.
“This place will continue to run without Tony Crutchfield. I am not naive to think it won’t. It will continue to be a great place. That’s what the army is about. It’s about change,” said Crutchfield.
As part of that change, Crutchfield now heads to Hawaii as the chief of staff of U.S. Pacific Command. Crutchfield is the first army officer to ever hold this position.
As for his legacy at Fort Rucker, he had one last thing to say.
“I hope to be remembered for my positive attitude, being upbeat, and taking care of soldiers’ families. That’s what I tried to do,” said Crutchfield.
He will relinquish command to Major General Kevin Magnum August 10.