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PA for a day: covering Col. Palmer’s fini-flight

Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, kisses his daughter's cheek, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric Brown)

Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, kisses his daughter's cheek, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric Brown)

Airman 1st Class Eric Brown, 726th Air Control Squadron air traffic controller, takes a photo of Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, exiting the F-15E Strike Eagle, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman JaNae Capuno)

Airman 1st Class Eric Brown, 726th Air Control Squadron air traffic controller, takes a photo of Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, exiting the F-15E Strike Eagle, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman JaNae Capuno)

Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, smiles at his family and friends, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric Brown)

Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, smiles at his family and friends, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric Brown)

Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, passes under a water salute, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric Brown)

Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, passes under a water salute, Aug. 2, 2019 at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Palmer flew his last flight within an F-15E before retiring from the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric Brown)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- If there’s anything that brings the Air Force online or has something to do with the press, Public Affairs is involved to make sure the Air Force’s voice is heard and ensures no classified or sensitive information gets released.

Starting my day at the 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office, I met the Airmen, supervisors and equipment. Senior Airman JaNae Capuno, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, taught me how to use PA camera gear and gave me tips on how to take a good photo.

The mission I participated in with PA is something that will be carried with a member of the Air Force for the rest of his life.

It was a special day for the Gunfighters -- Col. Thomas Palmer, 366th Fighter Wing chief of staff, flew his final flight with the F-15E Strike Eagle and retired from the U.S. Air Force in high honors while family and friends celebrated the conclusion of his service.

Reaching the flightline, I was mesmerized. The wide and vast amount of concrete reflected the heat, showing the mirage of the sky as a reflection. Feeling the sun radiate into my sleeves, I kept my chin up and saw beautiful F-15E’s zooming by with stride and confidence.

Seeing the aircraft in flight while zoomed in with my camera gives me a refreshed sense of pride and reminds me that I’m so blessed to serve.

After Palmer lands, the celebration began with two fire engines. These trucks performed a water salute, creating an arch by spraying water in which the fighter jet passed through.

As minutes passed by, the pilots unstrapped their gear. I saw smiles from the crowd and felt the pride beaming from Palmer’s family as they held champagne ready to soak the retiring colonel.

As Palmer climbed down the ladder, his family and close friends did not hold back. Water pumps and bottles of champagne sprayed Palmer as hugs and kisses greeted him shortly after.

Overall, my experience as PA for a day was splendid. I learned about another career field and experienced the retirement of a seasoned pilot.

Col. Palmer, I want to thank you for your service. I felt moved by the afternoon as it inspires me to be a positive light to people around me and my wingmen. May God bless and guide you as you move on to the next chapter of your life.

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