Atwell retires after 30-year career in Air Force, Air Guard

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Vicky Spesard
  • 123rd Airlift Wing
Chief Master Sgt. Joseph E. Atwell Jr. retired from military service during a ceremony held here April 15, concluding a career that spanned more than 30 years of service in both the active-duty Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard.

“When I think about (Chief Atwell), what comes to mind is ‘Joe will go’,” said Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, Kentucky's Assistant Adjutant General for Air, during the ceremony. “You went all over the world and gained a lot of experiences and brought those experiences to us. You’ve had a remarkable career and contributed a lot to the Kentucky National Guard and to Air Force, and I personally thank you for that.”

Atwell is the outgoing operations-plans Non-Commissioned Officer at Joint Force Headquarters-Kentucky, where he coordinated the airflow of state aviation assets in the event of a natural disaster or crisis.

He entered the Air Force in 1980 and initially served as an air traffic controller before becoming a control tower operator and radar approach controller on active duty at multiple stateside and overseas locations.

After a three-year break in service, Atwell joined the Kentucky Air National Guard here as a command post controller. Later, he moved to the 123rd Airlift Control Flight, deploying to austere airfields to provide rapid mobility airlift for Air Mobility Command.

Atwell served in many locations around the world, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. Additionally, he has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Coronet Oak, Joint Forge, Joint Enterprise, Red Flag Alaska and Unified Response.

He also participated in humanitarian missions in Louisiana during hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, as well as the earthquake relief mission in Haiti in January 2010.

In 2007, Atwell was instrumental in bringing the 123rd Contingency Response Group to initial operational status. He also served as the 123rd Airlift Wing Command Post superintendent before moving to Joint Force Headquarters.

“I stand here today a very blessed individual,” Atwell said, addressing the audience of his family, friends and peers. “I’ve been blessed with a God-loving family and friends who have supported me throughout my career. I have also been blessed with a great military family at the Kentucky National Guard. My time here has been very rewarding, and I am very thankful.”