The commander of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, has asked to retire in November so that he can run for Congress in 2016.
Col. Michael Bob Starr, is a B-1 instructor pilot with 2,000 flying hours, including more than 600 combat hours, according to his official Air Force biography. Since February 2014, he has led the airmen of the 7th Bomb Wing, who maintain and fly B-1 bombers.
"I'm passionate about protecting liberty and defending freedom, and I think I get an opportunity in Congress to do that across a wide a range of issues," Starr told Air Force Times on Wednesday. "Of course, I'm very interested in national defense issues, but I'm also interested in being able to put policies and laws into place to actually accomplish things versus going to Congress to not accomplish things, which seems to be a prevalent motivation these days."
Starr said he intends to seek the seat currently held by Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer, who recently announced he is retiring.
"To me, it is an extension of the service that I provided to the nation through the Air Force," Starr said. "I've been defending freedom in Air Force for 23 years, which is almost exactly half of my life. With the announced retirement of Congressman Neugebauer, who represents Dyess Air Force Base and West Texas, that created an opportunity for me to serve the nation in an even greater extent."
Because he is still in the Air Force, Starr declined to say which party's nomination he will seek, nor could he discuss specific policy positions.
Starr's departure occurs as 7th Air Force is moving from Air Combat Command to Global Strike Command, so the commander of 8th Air Force will pick Starr's replacement.
"I think that they're going to be able to make that change of command happen before the first of November, in which case I would probably go on terminal leave following that change of command," Starr said.
In a message to Dyess airmen on Wednesday, Starr said he will continue to focus on the jobs for as long as he is in the Air Force.
"It's important to me that you know my passion for the Air Force is as strong as it's ever been," he said. "I love Dyess Air Force Base, the airmen who work here, and the families that support them. I'm an airman to the bone, and will be until I take my last breath."