Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, will retire in September, the U.S. Air Force announced.
Pawlikowski — the third female Air Force general to reach a four-star rank — became AFMC’s commander in June 2015 following her predecessor, Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, who was the first woman to reach the four-star milestone.
“When people ask me how do you become a four-star general, I basically tell them that everything I ever needed to know I learned from my mother, who told me two things,” Pawlikowski once said in a Dayton Daily News interview. “No matter what job you’re given, always do the best job you can and never quit.”
Her successor has not yet been named. She will retire to central Georgia and a retirement ceremony will be announced.
Air Force Materiel Command conducts research and development and provides acquisition management services and logistics support for the Air Force. Pawlikowski oversees AFMC’s $60 billion budget and 80,000-person workforce, which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson.
AFMC met its cost-savings objective for the second fiscal year in a row, saving more than $2.5 billion in fiscal 2017, the base announced in June.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said Pawlikowski will have “a lasting legacy of outstanding leadership.”
“Gen. Pawlikowski’s era of leadership greatly grew Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s contributions to the Air Force’s missions and our national security,” Turner said in a statement. “Her service at Materiel Command has been inspirational for all who have worked under and with her, and her exemplary performance in her role has increased the importance of that command.”
Pawlikowski, a native of Bloomfield, New Jersey, was the first woman to become a second lieutenant through the Air Force ROTC program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Nearly 40 years later, she served as honorary grand marshal of the New York City Veterans Day parade.
When she attended the University of California at Berkley early in her career to earn a doctorate in chemical engineering, ROTC students met early in the morning to have time to change out of their uniform for the rest of the day’s classes because of concerns about their security on campus, she said. It was the era when President Carter had re-instituted Select Service registration for the draft. She once reflected with the Dayton Daily News about the change in attitude toward veterans over the decades.
“I have to tell you, it was a very, very strange experience for me the first time I was walking through an airport and somebody walked up to me and thanked me for (my) service,” Pawlikowski said.
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Staff Writer Barrie Barber, who died in June, contributed reporting.