Tyndall AFB general retires after playing large role in rebuild effort

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TYNDALL AFB, Fla. (WMBB) — After 32 years of service and playing a huge role in the rebuild of Tyndall Air Force Base, Brigadier General Patrice Melancon is heading into retirement.

The base celebrated her career on Monday with a virtual ceremony honoring her and her work and leadership over the rebuild of Tyndall. She led the charge in making Tyndall the installation of the future as the Executive Director of  Tyndall’s Program Management Office, which is in charge of the multi-billion dollar reconstruction effort. 

“It’s been really exciting, and very, very gratifying,” she said on Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Melancon said it’s been bittersweet; just last week, the building on base that she’s worked out of for the last couple of years was torn down.

“I got to see the rubble pile as I drove in on Sunday,” she said. “I thought, ‘oh, let me shed a little bit of a tear,’ because you get used to things.”

The demolition is one of many going on at the base, as Tyndall moves into the future with the plans she and her team have prepared.

“Hopefully we will not be doing this again anytime soon,” she said. “[But] it’s not often that someone has the ability to almost start from scratch, thinking about the layout of the base and getting the functions in the right place.”

She’s worked month after month on concepts, designs and plans to build the base of the future; Now, she’s ready to hand it off.

“I could not be happier with the progress that we’ve made,” she said. “It really does my heart good and I’m really comfortable with where we are and where we’re headed.”

She said demolition of old base buildings is well underway, with new construction contracts being awarded. As the installation continues to be rebuilt, the question remains; who will take her place?

She said that’s still under wraps.

“I’m pretty sure I know who it is, and the base and the program will be in very, very good hands,” she said.

In the meantime, General Melancon will head home to Texas for her official retirement ceremony next week, but said she plans on visiting the base and surrounding community soon. 

For now, she leaves with good advice.

“Grow where you’re planted,” she said. “Make the most of what the universe hands you, even if it isn’t what you really thought you wanted.”

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