Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor and pay tribute to an individual from my Congressional District who has dedicated his life to defending the people of this country and preserving the basic freedoms and liberties that we hold dear. Brigadier General James L. Melin, of the United States Air Force Reserve, is a true American hero and today I thank him for his 39 years of service. On Saturday, March 27, 2010, General Melin will be honored at his retirement and Change of Command Ceremony at March Air Force Base in California.
General Melin was commissioned through the ROTC program at St. Louis University, Missouri, and graduated in 1971. After graduation, he began active duty and completed his flight training at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, in 1974.
During his career, General Melin's assignments included Administrative Officer, 1550th Aircrew Training Test Wing at Hill Air Force Base; KC-135 Pilot, 28th Bombardment Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base; KC-135 Pilot and Mission Development Officer, 93rd Bombardment Wing, Castle Air Force Base; Instructor Pilot, 931st Air Refueling Group, Grissom Air Force Base; and Evaluator Pilot, Chief of Plans, Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, Director of Training, Operations Officer, and Operations Group Commander, 940th Air Refueling Wing, McClellan Air Force Base.
In 1997, General Melin commanded the 434th Operations Group, Grissom ARB, Indiana and later assumed command of the 434th Air Refueling Wing. Starting in 2006, General Melin took command of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air Force Base in California.
Throughout his exemplary career, General Melin has flewn over 5,500 hours and participated in tanker operations in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Joint Forge, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
General Melin's awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with ``V'' device and four oak leaf clusters, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and Kuwait Liberation Medal (Government of Kuwait).
General Melin will retire from the United States Air Force service with more than just his experience, decorated career and remarkable accomplishments; his enduring legacy will serve as a shining example and constant reminder of what it means to be an American patriot and leader. I am grateful for his service and salute him as he retires from the Air Force.
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