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NEWS | June 10, 2024

19th Air Force command chief retires after 30-year career

By Benjamin Faske 19th Air Force Public Affairs

Families, friends, and coworkers said farewell and good luck to Chief Master Sgt. Justin Apticar, 19th Air Force command chief, during his retirement ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, on June 7, 2024. 

Brig. Gen. Ryan Messer, director of plans at Headquarters Air Force in Washington, D.C., presided over the ceremony.

Apticar's career in the Air Force began 30 years and three months ago. An aircraft maintainer by trade, he was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Osan Air Base, South Korea; Kadena Air Base, Japan; and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. He also completed multiple tours to Afghanistan. His previous assignments to the 19th Air Force were as the command chief at the 53rd Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and the 1st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, South Korea.

Apticar reflected on what he would miss the most in retirement.  “The camaraderie in the Air Force was second to none,” Apticar said. “It didn’t matter if it was networking or socializing or finding connection, I will miss it.”

To celebrate his retirement, a golf tournament and picnic were held, highlighting the community’s appreciation for his service. Additionally, Apticar visited JBSA-Lackland, where his Air Force journey began. There, he attended an Air Force basic military training graduation where he was recognized for his retirement.

“I hope that every Airman understood that they needed to own it,” he said. “I hope that they know that once they committed to service versus self, the rewards and accomplishments of taking care of people are unexplainable. The feeling that comes with helping others was the best part about this job.”

Apticar addressed members of the 19th Air Force staff during his closing remarks at his retirement ceremony.  “Serving alongside each member on staff has been remarkable. Your dedication to ensuring current and future ways of aviation training is evident by how fast we can make changes and try new things.  This team will be missed.”