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Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James at James' farewell ceremony at on Jan. 11 at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2017. Air Force photo by TSgt. Joshua L. DeMotts

​Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James made her final public appearance in office Wednesday, telling airmen to “aim high, and aim well. I know you will, and I’ll be watching.” James spoke Wednesday during a retirement ceremony at JB Andrews, Md., where she was presented with the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service medal by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Award for Exceptional Public Service award by Chief Gen. David Goldfein. “We are a better Air Force because of the passion, commitment, and the leadership of Secretary Deborah Lee James,” Goldfein said. James’s term lasted three years and 23 days, where she visited 102 locations in 47 countries. Both her first trip and her last trip in office were the service’s nuclear missile bases, which showed her commitment to improve the morale and effectiveness of that community, Carter said. Carter highlighted the push to improve nuclear morale as a major accomplishment by James, along with addressing issues with sexual assault, increasing the remotely piloted aircraft community, and commitment to ongoing wars aboard. “When I took this job, I knew it would be an honor,” James said. “I didn’t understand what a joy it would be and how much I would learn.”