Story by A1C Kristof Rixmann on 04/03/2019RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Twenty-seven U.S. Air Force senior master sergeants were formally recognized for their promotion to chief master sergeant during the Chief Recognition Ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, March 23, 2019.
The Chief Recognition Ceremony is an event that highlights the newest chief master sergeant-selects' accomplishments and acknowledges their ability to attain a position within the top one percent of the U.S. Air Force enlisted force.
U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt.-select Jason David, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs superintendent, believes this ceremony is the culmination of the work he's been involved with since being an airman.
"No one makes chief on their own," says David. "It's such a humbling ceremony. It reminded me of every team accomplishment, every birthday party, and every return from deployment. I'm proud to have made it this far and I hope to continue to bring others up in the way my leaders have done for me."
U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Sean Nelms, 786th Civil Engineer Squadron superintendent, agrees with David's sentiment and how important their role is in Airmen development.
"When I first enlisted I observed the positive influence that the chief master sergeant had on the careers of Airmen," said Nelms. "I have had many great mentors that have inspired and guided me along the way, many of them were chiefs. I have always wanted to pay that forward and making chief, to me, was a part of that process. In my position, as a chief, I am able to open doors for Airmen that they once saw as closed."
Putting on this last stripe allowed Nelms to be the chief he observed in his early U.S. Air Force career. Despite some sacrifices Nelms encountered while holding the highest enlisted rank, these obstacles never made being chief any less important to him.
"No sacrifices I've made weren't worth it," said Nelms. "Leadership is hard work and takes time to get right. To lead well, I believe you have to listen and build relationships to learn what is really going on. This takes time, but again, worth the investment to try and get it right. Our Airmen and their families are sacrificing so much to propel our mission forward, whether at home station or deployed. They deserve chiefs that are invested in them and making whatever sacrifices are needed to ensure their needs are being met."
Throughout the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Mark R. August, 86th AW commander, Chief Master Sgt. Ernesto Rendon, 86th AW command chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Phillip L. Easton, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa command chief, imparted their words of wisdom with Kaiserslautern Military Community's 27 new selectees before the night came to a close.
An idea was reiterated several times by these guest speakers. The notion that it doesn't matter how long an individual has held the rank of chief master sergeant, because the prestige and respect is unfaltering.
At times, this level of respect the rank carries may cause roadblocks in communication with more junior Airmen but Nelms makes it clear that communication with a section's chief should be encouraged.
"I know I don't always get the ground truth when I am out and about talking with Airmen," said Nelms. "They are guarded with information to ensure they say what they think I may want to hear. I wish it were just the opposite. I genuinely want to hear what is going on in their world. I would ask all junior Airmen to be candid and engage with your chiefs. They need to hear first-hand what is impacting you positively, so we can do more of it, and what is impacting you negatively, so we can stop doing it or get it right. Now more than ever, your chiefs are tuned in and listening to you and your needs. We want to make this Air Force more efficient and more effective and we know we need your help and innovative ideas to do that."
David agrees and expands on Nelms' ideas on why good communication with your chief is important.
"A chief has been a time honored rank with a lot of history throughout the ages," said David. "At its core, however, a chief is a protector, guide, and mentor. A chief looks out for the well-being of his or her people. That's what someone who makes chief needs to embody in my opinion."
The moment the ceremony concluded, the new chief-selects knew it was time to get back to work and resume advocating for their Airmen, this time with an even greater sphere of influence.
The new chief master sergeant selects are Chief Master Sgt. Melanie Townsend and Senior Master Sgts: Gilda Alexander, Stephen Bennett, Erik Bensen, Matthew Canoy, Jason David, Yamil Davila, Ernest Dinolfo, Eric Edwards, Brean Fitzsimmons, Carteralynn Ford, Destiny Hager, Jason Hammel, Nakia Hartson, Joshua Lackey, Peter Martinez, Fedrick McBride, Timothy Miller, Jennifer Nalls, Jason Passmore, Christopher Sandlin, Joshua Skarloken, Corey Strother, Larry Tate, Clifford Thebodeau, Chet Tonge and Brian Witte.