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A passionate, service-orientated life

Key Club alumnus Paul Tibbets’ journey of service began in junior high school, when he was involved in several service-orientation programs. So it was only natural that he was excited about Key Club when he learned about it in high school.

Paul didn’t just get involved. He became a Key Club leader, even becoming the 1984–85 Alabama District Governor. Ultimately, Paul was inspired to work with a group who wanted to help others and improve their school and community.

“We were all so young,” he says, “but even at that age we knew how blessed we were and wanted to give back. It wasn’t about us, but how we could use our abilities for the greater good.”

Paul's Key Club experience was the foundation of his service-oriented life. Paul’s father—a traditional guardsman in the U.S. Army—began to notice the impact Key Club was making. As Paul’s interest in service and ability to lead grew, he took his father's advice to apply to the United States Air Force Academy. He eventually earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Factors Engineering.

Paul continued with his education and earned two master's degrees—a Master of Science in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Idaho and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

Paul's main motivator was the Air Force. Today, Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets serves as the Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri—and he continues to see the same positive influence on young people.

“We push our Airmen to challenge themselves in all walks of life—mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially,” he says. “A well-rounded person is much more capable and balanced, and as a result better able to serve our nation to the best of their abilities.”

Paul has been happily married to his wife, Angelle, for the past 21 years. Together they have two teenagers, and now, Angelle and Paul are celebrating his 27 years of service in the Air Force. 

“It’s not over yet,” he said. “We will continue this journey until they kick us out!”

One of the most important lessons Paul has learned is the importance of pursuing your passions. 

“Thanks to the generations of men and women who have selflessly served our great nation—many making the ultimate sacrifice—we’re free to pursue our dreams,” he says. “The opportunities are truly endless. And therefore our success really depends on remaining humble and engaging life with a passion.

“Humility keeps us grounded, and passion ensures we pursue excellence in all we do.”

Interview with Paul Tibbets, Key Club alumni

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