Col. Ryan E. “RY” Richardson, Commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base, encouraged Troy University graduates to leverage their degree to be in service to their families, friends and communities during the Fall Commencement ceremony at the University’s Montgomery Campus on Dec. 19.
Speaking to more than 100 graduates inside the Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts, Richardson told graduates that the commencement ceremony was the culmination of much effort and determination, but it also was a beginning point rather than the end.
“I don’t know how many ‘nos’ led to a ‘yes’ in your acceptance into this University or your ability to figure out how to make it happen or make it work,” he said. “I don’t know how many years led to this night nor do I know how many were involved in lifting, driving and supporting you to this achievement — maybe some of them are no longer with us – but I know it is just the start. My craft, my chosen profession, is to give of myself and my teammates what is required to defend our nation. I encourage you to similarly leverage this degree to service your families, friends and your communities. Our nation’s adversaries do not fear aging colonels, they fear you. They fear Americans who value free institutions of learning like Troy University and those willing to sacrifice for the experience, the relationships and the credentials earned along the way.”
Richardson shared thoughts and themes that have helped to guide him along his life journey and encouraged them to be present and with presence, be ready, be consistent and be humble.
“In whatever it is that you choose to do or continue doing, I’d offer that being present should be chief among them,” he said. “Having presence is somewhat different than being present, and you, in a perfect world, as a leader, as a follower and as a peer are both present and with presence. We all know those individuals that when they walk into the room, we know who they are. We also feel their void when they are not with us. I charge you to be available. Be available to your peers, your family, your friends. Work through that work-life balance. Be available to your peers, family and friends because they will bring you through wherever you find yourself within that balance.”
Richardson said being ready for the expected and unexpected and adopting a sense of consistency would serve graduates well throughout their lives.
“Be ready for what is expected of you and try to be ready for the unknown,” he said. “Be ready to lift someone up when they experience the unexpected. Be consistent. Life is a moving target. Nobody wants a boss that they don’t know what version of the boss is going to show up in the morning. I would suggest the same is true for peers, family and friends.”
Most importantly, Richardson said, graduates should always strive to be humble.
“There is no suitable substitute for humility, but I would offer also, humility ought not be confused with lack of confidence,” he said. “You’ve worked hard for your degree. You know what it is you’re talking about as you enter that workplace or return to that office.”
Richardson leads all base operating, infrastructure and services support for 42,000 active duty, Reserve, civilian, and contract personnel, students, and families at Maxwell and Gunter Annex in direct support of Air University, 908th Airlift Wing, Air Force Materiel Command units, Defense Information Systems Agency and more than 40 other mission partners. As Maxwell’s installation commander, he partners with local officials across a three-county,12-city region with an annual military economic impact of $2.1 billion.
Richardson’s previous assignment was as Director, Manpower, Personnel, and Services, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.