302 MXS superintendent retires after 36 years of service

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Justin Norton
  • 302nd Airlift Wing

Chief Master Sgt. Freddie Sanchez, 302nd Maintenance Squadron superintendent, retired after more than 36 years of service during a ceremony Oct. 16, Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, with three aerial firefighting C-130s at his back and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

As family, friends and coworkers looked on, Sanchez stood beside retired Col. Carlos Ortiz, his chosen guest of honor, as the ceremony proceeded inside a maintenance hangar with the sun shining on Sanchez’s last moments in the Air Force.

Ortiz spoke about Sanchez’s character, the support of his family and his dedication to Airmen and the mission. Sanchez supported deployed operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as humanitarian crises caused by conflict in Kosovo. He also supported the defense of the United States after 9/11 during Operation Noble Eagle. Ortiz said Sanchez worked on multiple aircraft including KC-135s and C-130s. He was also part of bringing the B-1 online into the Air Force. Since arriving here in 1995 to maintain 302nd Airlift Wing C-130s, the wing has flown thousands of sorties in support of operations all around the world. 

Capt. James Gerdis, 302 MXS director of operations, presented Sanchez with one final Meritorious Service Medal before the retirement ceremony. The award highlighted his most recent accomplishments with 302 AW C-130 aircraft propeller modifications, supporting aerial firefighting sorties this wildfire season and executing a recovery plan which brought aircraft struck by hail damage back online in a timely manner. 

Sanchez received various gifts from those in attendance, including the Chief’s Group, Col. Jordan Murphy, 302nd Maintenance Group commander, Lt. Col. Ryan Brader, 731st Airlift Squadron commander and others. Each recounted stories of their experiences with Sanchez over the years they’ve all known him. As the flag-folding portion of the ceremony concluded, Sanchez presented his folded retirement flag to his wife, Vivian Sanchez, as a gift and thanked her for her support throughout his years of service.

“Alright, ladies and gentlemen,” said Gerdis. “It is truly my honor and privilege to introduce you for the first time to Chief Master Sgt. Freddie A. Sanchez, United States Air Force, retired.”

Sanchez thanked his family members individually and expressed gratitude for the support he’s received along the way from them, his friends and coworkers.

“For me to get where I am today, I didn’t do it alone.” said Sanchez. “I have good wingmen, good friends and good people bringing me up in this world. That’s what got me here.”

He spoke about the challenges everyone in the military has to face. He said that in order to keep moving forward in the Air Force, he had to stay out of his comfort zone. Enduring frequent changes and continuing to work hard to reach his goals in the face of those challenges is what enabled him to get as far as he did.

Sanchez said, “But when I look back and ask why I decided to stay for 36 years?” He motioned toward the aircraft parking ramp with a view of Pikes Peak. “Well, this is what kept me here for 36 years. Every time I get upset about something, I just think about what sits right here on the ramp. This is why I joined the Air Force. This is what I grew up for: military aircraft. I don’t know what I’m going to do without these planes. People make the mission, but the mission makes the people.”