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News | Aug. 5, 2019

USSTRATCOM director of joint exercises, training and assessments retires after nearly a half century of dedicated service

By U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs U.S. Strategic Command

After almost half a century of combined military and federal service, Pat McVay, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) director of joint exercises, training and assessments (J7), and a Senior Executive Service member for the Department of the Air Force celebrated his retirement July 26, 2019, during a retirement ceremony in Bellevue, Nebraska.

McVay, a native of South Dakota said that although USSTRATCOM has been a major part of my adult life he is looking forward to retirement.

“It feels good to be retiring and I’m looking forward to it,” said McVay. “I’ve enjoyed the discipline, the sense of mission, and the common purpose—I found that in SAC. I’ve continued that in STRATCOM. I’ve just always enjoyed that; I love this command.” 

U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of USSTRATCOM, presided over the retirement ceremony and reflected on McVay’s contributions to the command.

“We are here to say good bye to a legend of STRATCOM,” said Hyten during McVay’s retirement ceremony. “What an amazing human being, he came here and he has left his mark.”

McVay also reflected on his long history with Strategic Air Command and USSTRATCOM. 

“I came to Strategic Air Command back in 1982 as a KC-135 pilot at Ellsworth Air Force Base and then came here to SAC headquarters,” McVay said. “I was on alert the day we stood down SAC alert back in 1992, so, I’ve been doing this a long time.

As the director of J7, McVay led more than 2,200 training and exercise events and said the command has made great strides in the joint exercise world.

“I think the biggest change in the joint exercise world is the move toward the globally integrated exercises and the linkage of exercises,” McVay said. “We have turned the corner where everybody realizes that if we are in a conflict with a near-peer adversary it’s going to be a global fight and we need to train and exercise that way.

“We have been pushing that from STRATCOM for a long time and it’s finally coming to pass, he said”. “I think that’s my biggest accomplishment as STRATCOM J7.”

As McVay reflects on his 46-year career with the Department of Defense, he says he would not change a thing. 

“I don’t know if I would have done anything differently because I never really had an endgame in sight,” said McVay. “It was just work hard, support the command, follow the commander’s priorities, and execute the mission the best way I knew how — and luckily good things happened.”

McVay also had some parting advice for the men and women of USSTRATCOM.

“Embrace the commander’s priorities,” said McVay. “Remember that this is not just a staff job. We are a global warfighting command, and you need to come to work every day with that mentality.

“Above all, provide strategic deterrence and work hard every day — remember that mission,” he said. “If everybody does that, the command will be successful and you’ll enjoy your job and make a difference.”

McVay said it feels good to be retiring because he will have more time to spend with his family, play golf and relax as he retires in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He noted that retirement is bittersweet.

“Just like my military career, you don’t remember the bad days; you don’t remember the short-notice deployments,” said McVay. “You remember the experiences you had with the people, and that’s what I’ll remember.”

As a military leader McVay used to tell people that they will just know when it’s time to retire. 

“I grew up in South Dakota, my mother always said that I left home in 1973 and I never came home again,” said McVay. “I think it’s time to go home.”

For more information, contact the USSTRATCOM Public Affairs Office at 402-294-4130 or or visit