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42 Years of Safety Service: Mr. Mike Matthews

Retirement ceremony.

Colonel Matthew A. Leard, the 97 AMW commander, presents Mr. Mike Matthews the Outstanding Career Civil Service Award at his Retirement Dinner on December 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. (curtesy photo from the 97th Air Mobility Wing Safety Office).

Retirement ceremony.

Lt. Col. Matthew E. Tarnowski, Chief of Wing Safety, presents Mr. Mike Matthews the Department of the Air Force retirement certificate at his retirement dinner on December 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. (curtesy photo from the 97th Air Mobility Wing Safety Office).

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

42 years! It’s rare, in 2020, to see a professional hone their skills for more than four decades. Mr. Mike Matthews, the 97th Air Mobility Wing occupational safety manager, did just that closing his second career as a Department of the Air Force civilian on December 31, 2019. Enlisting in September of 1974, Airman Matthews began his Air Force journey. The subsequent twenty years built his foundation of knowledge he has employed at Altus Air Force Base. He retired from active duty in 1994 as a Master Sgt. and began his civil service career in 1997.

During his career, Mr. Matthews spearheaded dozens of safety initiatives. He’s led class-A mishap investigations, started the Volunteer Protection Program with the 97th Maintenance Group, mentored dozens of occupational safety professionals and is the mastermind behind introducing “Earl the Safety Squirrel” to the safety team. 

While the safety programs and thousands of investigations he managed are important, his legacy lives through the Airmen he’s led, instructed, and mentored. There are more than four decades of Occupational Safety Specialists who carry the safety spear forward. 

Mike, thank you for your contributions to Occupational Safety, the 97th Air Mobility Wing, and the Department of the Air Force. Enjoy retirement, and we’ll see you on the golf course!