“My theme today and my message for the men and women in uniform is to lead with courage, no matter what the cost, stand for what you believe in and don’t waver,” said the commander, who was retiring after 35 years with the Air Force. “That is my theme, along with my faith in Jesus Christ. He gave me 35 years to serve, and I may be a navigator but he is my pilot.”
The 53-year-old Canton resident told the 400 people who were in attendance that there were many positive events in his life that came out of his Air Force career.
“It has been like a mother to me. … It has paid me, clothed me, fed me and took me to places I could only dream of going. It even introduced me to my wife, Cindee,” the highly decorated officer said. “I didn’t join the military to get rich. I joined it because the military is an honorable profession. For me it was about the mission, honor, duty, country.”
Tarchick took over Dobbins in 2010 after serving four years as commander of the 934th Airlift Wing in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Now, Col. Brett Clark, the 908th Airlift Wing commander at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, will take over command of Dobbins.
When asked what some of the biggest accomplishments during his time at Dobbins were, Tarchick said that during the 3½ years he was in charge, there were no casualties among those deployed overseas from the base.
“First and foremost, we never lost anybody in the wing deployment, we have been deployed 24/7, 365 days, and never had anyone wearing a uniform die. We have had 100s and 100s serving, primarily in the area of operations, and everyone has returned,” he said.
Another point of pride is that during his time in charge at the local base, the number of Equal Employment Opportunity complaints has drastically dropped.
Tarchick’s responsibilities included more than 12,000 employees for tenant units at the base including 22nd Air Force, Air Force Plant 6 and Lockheed-Martin, the Georgia Army and Air National Guard and the Army, Navy and Marine Corps Reserves.
“Another big rock for me personally — I came from Minneapolis where we only had two EEO complaints a year, but when I got to Dobbins, there were two to four a month,” Tarchick said. “I realized that in the South, the culture was different and it was an eye-opener.”
Tarchick said he called the base together and told them he wanted that to change.
“I sat down the whole wing — 2,500 — and we went through 2½ hour trainings to allow people to talk about the issues and challenges,” he said. “We had complaints that promotions were based on whether people were white or black, and I am happy to say, we turned that oil tanker around and we are down to four or five a year.”
Another major accomplishment was saving the chapel that had been on the base since 1950, built in 1942 and used overseas during World War II.
“The chapel sat in the same spot for 60 years and we needed to move it because of post 9/11improvements. We had two options: tear it down or move it,” Tarchick said. “And we were able to move it to south side of the base at no cost, and that was a huge success story.”
Tarchick and his wife have six children, five of them living at home with the couple in the Clayton community, ages 9, 12, 14, 17 and 23. They have 23-year-old twins.
The commander said he doesn’t know what the future holds.
“I don’t know what God has for me. I don’t have a job tomorrow morning,” he said.