AFFTC Commander Pins First Star on Former 412th TW Leader

8/2/2007 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FL -- Waiting for the right time to bring the family together, newly promoted Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Lanni, Air Armament Center vice commander, wanted to share the accomplishment with his family and friends.

His wish came true July 27 when more than 300 friends and family from as far away as California and Virginia came out to watch him pin on his first star at the Eglin Officers' Club -- even though it was official July 3.

During the ceremony, General Lanni's friends and family reflected on his past achievements and moments that defined him as a family man and an Air Force man.

"A promotion is a big deal...for Joe what it means is personal achievement," said Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, Air Force Flight Test Center commander, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and a personal friend to General Lanni. "This is kind of like the lifetime personal achievement award."

As the ceremony's emcee, General Bedke opened his remarks humorously by dispelling the rumor that all it takes is good looks to make the general officer ranks.

"As it turns out that's not enough; you have to have more than good looks," he said. "You have to have incredible luck.

"In fact, I've made a lifetime of going with a thesis that luck alone is good enough," he said to an eruption of laughter. "But to try to be more serious, a lifetime worth of excellence and personal achievement (is what) leads to today."

General Bedke laid out the case by describing a pattern of Air Force excellence that started at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., and continued throughout General Lanni's career. During his remarks, General Bedke repeatedly mentioned the phrase honor graduate as he described General Lanni's base-by-base achievements.

"Do you see a theme here," he asked the crowd.

General Lanni was commissioned in 1980 following graduation from the Academy. During his career he's commanded the 412th Test Wing, served as director of the F/A-22 Combined Test Force, Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif., as well as a flight test squadron commander. Additionally, he served as a staff officer at the Air Force and Joint Chiefs of Staff level. As a command pilot, General Lanni has more than 4,500 flying hours in more than 90 different types of aircraft including the F-22. He's been a fighter pilot, aggressor pilot and experimental test pilot during his career.

"Promotion ceremonies are not really about you," he turned and told General Lanni. "They're like weddings. They're really...well they're for mom actually. That's what they are all about."

That emphasis on family is mirrored by the general's family life.

"Most of you who know Joe, if you take away the official duty side of the house, you're going to think the same thing I do man," General Bedke said. "Great kids, great family and Joe knows how to manage his time. You can always see him taking great consideration for his family and taking consideration for the families of the people working for him."

His strong family focus is re-enforced by his work ethic that's a great combination according to his wife Pam.

"The neat thing is it's a job he loves. It's wonderful to be married to him because I'm married to a man who loves his job. That makes life at home wonderful because he's happy and that makes the rest of us happy."

His family, including his children Nicole, Kyle, Caity and Michaela, have followed his career every step of the way. The example he set as a father and an Air Force officer inspires his son Kyle.

"I've enjoyed very much having a dad who's tough on me, who's not going to let me slack; who's going to teach me how to be a gentleman, how to grow up and be an adult," said Kyle Lanni, 17-year-old son who aspires to follow in his father's footsteps. "His example is one I truly respect."

Despite his various achievements he's had during his career, General Lanni is humble by his promotion to a flag officer rank.

During General Lanni's remarks, he answered the two questions people have asked him scores of times since the announcement. The first question is "How does it feel?"

"I'm really humbled to be here," he said. "When my name first came out on the promotion list in November '05, I honestly felt that this honor could have gone to any one of several handfuls of great colonels I was working with and that I knew around the Air Force at the time."

The second one is "Why do you think you got selected?"

"Any (National Football League) tailback who wins the rushing title would probably give you the same answer," he said. "I have providentially been surrounded by a fantastic group of coworkers in every job that I've been in. And it's really enabled me to be a part of some history-making endeavors."

Source: USAF Eglin AFB Press Release by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares

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