Retiring SAFB wing commander reflects on career

As hard as it is for him to step away, he said he is ready to spend more time with his family.
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Col. Robert Haas, 80th Flying Training Wing commander, is retiring after serving 27 years in the Air Force. He has spent the last two years at Sheppard Air Force Base, bringing an outstanding career to an end.

As hard as it is for him to step away, he said he is ready to spend more time with his family.

He’s excited about the future, but he will honor his past, especially the time spent at SAFB. Haas faced challenges he wasn’t quite ready for, but credits his team for working hard to overcome them. He is finally ready to fly off into the sunset.

“I will sleep easy on my back porch in Burkburnett because I am quite proud of the product that we have produced here at Sheppard,” Haas said.

It’s been almost three decades since Haas joined the United States Air Force. Now, he is ready to put down his wings and retire.

“I really look forward to reintroducing myself back to my wife and my kids,” Haas said. “Whether they want it or not, I will be spending more time with them.”

Haas has spent the last two years at SAFB. He arrived at the start of COVID, which he said was a challenge like no other.

“That was really the struggle for quite frankly about three-quarters of my time here,” Haas said. “But if you don’t innovate then you die, so we continued to innovate, to see if there were ways that we could do business smarter.”

Luckily, he did not have to face these challenges alone: Chief Master Sgt. Matt Mueller was his righthand man.

“So I would say we taught each other lots of stuff,” Mueller said. “We basically watched each others’ backs honestly. It will be different, but I am confident that the next commander and command chief will take what we have built and take it to better places.”

Haas said he will miss a lot of the day-to-day operations, but not everything.

“I absolutely won’t miss the paperwork or the late nights, early mornings or the phone calls you don’t necessarily want to get, but just the friendships and the bonds that we have is just special,” Haas said. “Also assignment nights, that usually happens a couple weeks prior to their graduation and that is where they find out what they are going to go do. Those are certainly energy-filled events.”

Haas said it feels like just yesterday when he was getting started and strapping into a plane for the first time.

“If I didn’t have such arthritis and if I could see a little better, I would probably swap name tags with them and I would love to do it all over again,” Haas said.

Haas wants to thank Sheppard Air Force Base and the surrounding community for making his family feel at home and for what comes next. He said there’s always a chance he will end back up in the sky to serve his country in one way or another.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mistakenly said Chief Master Sgt. Matt Mueller’s last name was Buehler.

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