ASTS commander retires after 35 years of service

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A retirement ceremony was held to honor Col. Sharon W. Colaizzi and her contributions to the United States Air Force at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pa., Jan. 6, 2018.

Colaizzi retired as the commander of the 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron after 35 years of honorable service to the Air Force.

“When I look at Sharon, I see everything that is right with the Air Force Reserve,” said Col. Jeffrey A. VanDootingh, 911th Airlift Wing commander, during her retirement ceremony. “She has had a remarkable career and almost all of that was here at the 911th.”

Beyond one year spent at the Pentagon, from April 2012 to May 2013, as the Individual Mobilization Augmentee, Nurse to Medical Directorate, Headquarters, Air Force Reserve, Colaizzi served with the bulk of her career with the 911th AW.

Colaizzi’s military career began Jan. 12, 1983 when she enlisted in the Air Force Reserve as an aeromedical evacuation technician. Exactly five years later, she was commissioned as an officer after completing her nursing degree.

Shortly after she commissioned, Colaizzi deployed in support of Desert Storm as a flight nurse. Over the years, she progressed through the ranks, serving as the assistant chief nurse, senior flight clinical coordinator, officer-in-charge of the physical examination and standards section and nurse practitioner.

From March 15, 2018 to Jan 12, 2018, she served as the commander of the 911th ASTS.  At her retirement ceremony, Colaizzi was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the United States in her role as the ASTS commander.

She was recognized for consistently demonstrating unparalleled efforts in ensuring the 26 Air Force Specialty Codes that make up the 911th ASTS maintained the highest level of medical readiness to ensure that the 911th AW’s 1,200 plus members were ready to deploy when called upon, in support of the Global War on Terror.

Colaizzi’s vast experience and expertise ensured all members were equipped, trained and empowered to achieve their jobs which resulted in an unprecedented number of personnel and sections under her command being recognized for superior performance by Air Force Reserve Command.

At the culmination of a full career in the military, Colaizzi retired as a colonel with exactly 30 years as an officer.

“That’s the most allowed by law,” said VanDootingh. “She did the maximum. A large percentage of people don’t even make twenty years. It takes a lot of dedication and blood, sweat and tears.”

The wing commander went on to commend Colaizzi saying only one out of every 100 officers make colonel.

“She has been phenomenal,” said VanDootingh. “I couldn’t ask more of her.”

Colaizzi’s years of dedicated service and leadership will live on through the mentorship and guidance that she has provided to countless Air Force officers and enlisted members, cementing her legacy as a leader for generations to come, according to her Legion of Merit citation.

“Throughout my career, I tried to mentor as many people as I could,” said Colaizzi as she thanked the crowd for coming to her retirement ceremony.

A large percentage of the ASTS, retired military members, family and guests filled the retirement ceremony venue to celebrate Colaizzi’s 35-year career.

“I look around this room and I see youth, wisdom, people from my past and from my present,” said Colaizzi during her retirement ceremony. “There is so much talent in the ASTS and for me to be able to look at the unit, I am full of pride.”