TUCSON, Ariz. — Sealing his new rank as an Air National Guard brigadier general, junior enlisted personnel pinned silver stars onto the shoulders of the 162nd Wing Commander during a promotion ceremony Nov. 7 at the Tucson International Airport.
Brig. Gen. Phil Purcell accepted his new rank in front of more than 1,000 Airmen and distinguished guests, including Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, the Adjutant General of the Arizona National Guard.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Edward P. Maxwell, commander of the Arizona Air National Guard, officiated the ceremony. In his congratulatory speech, he emphasized Purcell’s advocacy for the wing and its Airmen.
“This is a well-deserved promotion. Over the last two years, Col. Purcell has done an incredible job of coming in and taking care of Airmen,” said Maxwell, noting that as a general, Purcell will continue to put forth the same effort as he has always dedicated to the wing.
The new general expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the Airmen of the 162nd.
“While we seem to be focused on my shoulders today, trust me, I know it’s your shoulders that carry our wing. You guarantee our wing’s priorities of success for mission and Airmen,” said Purcell, who is now the 12th commander of the wing since its founding in 1956.
“No matter what my rank, being a part of your team is the job of a lifetime,” Purcell continued. “I am extremely proud to be your commander and can’t thank you enough.”
Breaking from tradition, Purcell chose the most junior enlisted Airmen from each group to perform the honor of pinning on the service dress jacket’s silver stars and placing new shoulder boards for his dress shirt – embodying a commitment to his own Air National Guard family.
“I am highly honored to be able to participate in General Purcell’s promotion ceremony. I feel that it symbolizes a journey to strive for a higher goal,” said Airman 1st Class Priscilla Cruzalegui, aerospace medical technician with the 162nd Medical Group.
Cruzalegui was not the only one to feel fortunate to have been one of the few who were part of the ceremony.
“It’s the top and the bottom of the totem pole. It’s a privilege to be a slick sleeve pinning on General Purcell,” said Airman Miguel Urbina, traffic management operations specialist with the 162nd Mission Support Group.
Though the silver eagle worn by an Air Force colonel is now part of Purcell’s past, his dedication to the Airmen of the 162nd Wing continues on its unwavering path as a one-star general.
“I am extremely humbled by this ceremony, and being a part of this team is a great honor.”