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Col. Gordon reflects on time as AEDC commander

Writer: Bradley Hicks

Arnold Engineering Development Complex Commander Col. Randel Gordon’s arrival at Arnold Air Force Base evoked a feeling he experienced only one other time in his nearly 30-year Air Force career.

The first time Gordon experienced the sentiment was in 2011 after he and his wife deboarded a plane in Honolulu, Hawaii, prior to the start of his Air Force assignment there.

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“We flew to Hawaii. We got off the airplane. They opened the door,” Gordon recalled. “You get that first wash of very humid tropical air, and you can smell the flowers in the breeze, and you’re looking out and you see Diamond Head over there in the Pacific Ocean. I had this feeling. I turned to my wife and I said, ‘I’m going to miss this assignment.’ We haven’t even started yet, and I already miss this place, even though that’s still years out in the future.

“I had the same feeling walking in here of just immediately, on day one, it was like, ‘I’m going to miss this place,’ because Tennessee as a whole has just been such a fantastic place to live. What a beautiful state. What great people, patriotic people. It’s been really wonderful just seeing the state and getting a chance to view it as a first-time visitor.”

Gordon departed Arnold AFB, headquarters of AEDC, on June 13, the same day Col. Grant Mizell assumed the post of AEDC commander.

 Col. Randel Gordon, who will depart his post as Arnold Engineering Development Complex commander on June 13, 2024, discusses accomplishments during his tenure and his upcoming retirement from the Air Force during an interview May 20, 2024, at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., headquarters of AEDC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Keith Thornburgh)

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