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Retired CSAF, former residents revisit TLR

A group of friends stand in front of a street sign

Retired Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz, his wife, Suzie, and 19 former residents of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, revisit a section of on-base housing where many of them grew up on Alabama Drive July 13, 2019. The visit offered a chance to acquaint the group with the current mission set of Little Rock AFB, and allowed lifelong friends to come together to see how the installation has evolved over the past few decades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Warren Byrd)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Retired Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz, his wife, Suzie, and 19 former residents of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, toured the installation July 13, 2019 to revisit the place each at one time called home.  

The purpose of the tour was to acquaint the former residents with the current mission set of Little Rock AFB, as well as to offer a chance for lifelong friends to come together to see how the installation has evolved over the past few decades.

“It’s been almost 50 years since we were here – I never dreamed I would be able to come back to this base,” said Debbie Osteen Green, a former resident and tour participant. 

The event began at the Jacksonville – Little Rock AFB University Center, where participants discussed with Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander, some of the changes the base has seen over the years and what the base was like when they were growing up.

Schutte emphasized one key thing that has not changed over the years: the partnership Team Little Rock has with the local community.

“We have come to rely on the support of our community partners outside the gates to get the mission done,” Schutte said. “And because of those close ties we have forged, we know that our time in Central Arkansas is not just an assignment – it’s home.”

Many of the former residents found that home while growing up on Little Rock AFB, specifically on Alabama Drive – a road within base housing that still has occupied houses with residents today.

“The area of Alabama Drive had a teenager in every single house,” said Cindy Ptak. “And so, when you moved in, you had an automatic group of friends.”

At the end of the event, the group had the chance to stop and see Alabama Drive, reminiscing with one another about the good times and camaraderie built from living in such a close community on base.

“We played football together, we went to school together,” Ptak said. “Coming back here and seeing these people – it’s almost like a family reunion.”

Schwartz, who served as CSAF from August 2008 to November 2012, was previously stationed at Little Rock AFB in 1974 for C-130 initial qualification training and again in 1977 as a flight examiner with the then-61st Tactical Airlift Squadron.

“For about 3 wonderful years on Little Rock AFB a group of about 30 young teenagers formed bonds and friendships that have lasted a lifetime,” said Suzie Schwartz. “Walking through our old housing area brought back wonderful memories, of touch football games by the lake, camping behind our houses and parties where we danced to our favorite songs. Having also met my husband at Little Rock AFB, I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for this place.”

Since retiring from the Air Force in 2012, the Schwartz family has maintained close ties to the base and the Central Arkansas community.

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