JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- During the final days of a 39-year career, the Air Force's top Airman stood beside his wife as they were both recognized for their distinguished service in a modest ceremony before close colleagues and family members Aug. 9.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz received the Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded to Airmen for exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility, from Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley.
"From his first day to his last, General Schwartz has been a war-time chief of staff," Donley said. "His legacy will be felt for years to come."
Donley said the Air Force needed a leader who embodied its core values, and had the leadership and management skills to set the Air Force on the right course.
"In all of these requirements, Norty fit the bill," he said.
Schwartz's award citation referred to his success in overseeing the restoration of excellence in the Air Force's nuclear mission, providing counsel to the president and the secretary of defense, contributing to the development of the Air-Sea Battle concept, and devoting significant attention to Airmen and family programs.
The chief of staff's wife, Suzie, was also recognized for her efforts during her 32 years as a military spouse in bringing attention to the issues military families face. Donley presented her with the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award.
"To say that Suzie has been active and engaged ... well, that would be an understatement," Donley said. "A more accurate description for Suzie is 'a force of nature.'"
One of her most prominent contributions to Air Force quality-of-life initiatives came when she attended a dignified transfer for fallen servicemembers and saw a need for a dedicated location to provide support to families of the fallen.
"Her commitment to quality-of-life programs and Air Force charities has set her apart as a role model for Air Force spouses," Donley said.
Schwartz will retire in a ceremony Aug. 10.