Maj. Gen. Zobrist will retire in Sumter in June
May 31, 2019
The 9th Air Force commander, who leads eight wings and three direct reporting units through its Shaw Air Force Base headquarters, is set to retire next month, but he won't be going far.
Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist said Monday after giving a keynote address at the Sumter County Veterans Association Memorial Day ceremony that he and his wife, Kay, have picked Sumter as their home in retirement.
Zobrist will retire from the U.S. Air Force after 33 years in the military, during which time he has held staff positions at the Air Staff, Air Combat Command, U.S. Forces Japan and 9th Air Force, has commanded two fighter wings and is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours, according to his Air Force biography.
He said he first experienced Sumter in August 1992 when his assignment as an assistant weapons officer for the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron was relocated to Shaw Air Force Base after Hurricane Andrew destroyed Homestead Air Force Base in south Florida. He was then assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron as chief of weapons and aide to the commander of the 9th Air Force at Shaw.
"I came here with my wife, we didn't have kids yet, and two dogs ... and the welcome we received here in Sumter was amazing. We have some friends who are still in the area who took care of us at the time," Zobrist said. "And when we came back, it was my next assignment, but I hadn't realized the transformation that had occurred in both the city and the county and how well the county and the city work together. So, when it came time to make a decision on where to go, it was actually a pretty easy decision when we realized we could just stay put here."
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As commander of the 9th Air Force, Zobrist is in change of ensuring the operational readiness of more than 400 aircraft and 29,000 active duty and civilian members. Since he took the reins in May 2016, the 9th Air Force has become a deployable, operational-level Joint Task Force, providing the Department of Defense with an "air-centric capability to task during crisis operations."
He earned his commission in 1986 as a distinguished graduate of the University of Southern California's ROTC program. In 1987, he was a distinguished graduate from Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and was assigned to fly the F-16. He has since flown the F-16 at five operational bases in the U.S. and Europe.
His combat experience includes Operation Deliberate Force over Bosnia, where he served as mission commander of NATO's first mission of the operation. He also deployed as the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom and as the deputy director of the Air Component Coordination Element, Combined Joint Task Force-82 and vice commander of the 455th Expeditionary Wing in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Before his current assignment at Shaw, he served as deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command and deputy commander of Combined Force Air Component, where he was responsible for the command and control of air operations in a 20-nation area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia to include Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.
Zobrist was promoted to major general in May 2014.
He said his wife likes to play tennis at Sumter's Palmetto Tennis Center and that they both enjoy activities available in and around Sumter.
He said the amenities are great, but the people are the main reason they are choosing to stay.
A car was recently stalled on U.S. 378 in Sumter with a bumper having fallen off. His wife suggested they stop and help.
"By the time we had turned around and came back, 30 seconds max, two other cars and a policeman had already pulled over to help. When you see a car that has stopped, regardless of the background of the individual, other Sumterites stop and try to help. So it's that kind of community spirit. It's uncommon patriotism," he said, referring to Sumter's slogan, "but it's uncommon friendship. It's a great community that we are really looking forward to being a part of."
He said his retirement date and change of command will be June 13 and that his replacement is coming from a direct conflict as deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against ISIS, but that he is no stranger to the South, having been wing commander at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia.
Credit: The Sumter Item