Chief inspires respect, personifies dedication

  • Published
  • By Maj. Melissa Youderian
  • 341st Security Support Squadron commander
Later this month, the first flight chief I had as a second lieutenant retires after 28-plus years of honorable service.

The following is not necessarily an homage to Chief Wilson on the occasion of his retirement. Rather, the intention is to pay homage to all those Chiefs who entered the Air Force during the threat of the Cold War, hated to love working in Strategic Air Command, and, when found in small groups, still kick back and reminisce about the "good ol' days" of SAC.

As the names, faces and tactics of our enemy changed, these Chiefs were key in ensuring the Air Force as an organization kept ahead of such global changes. While their role at headquarters level was important, it was their impact at the squadron level that kept the Air Force moving ahead.

In four assignments since I first met Chief Wilson, I've noticed a few trends in Chiefs from that general year group.

First, those Chiefs are almost always greatly feared and greatly respected. Despite the fading away of brown shoe tactics, these chiefs changed tactics and are still able to instill fear with just a few spoken words. Such short, composed butt chewings can't help but inspire respect in their Airmen.

Second, those Chiefs truly care. They know their Airmen's names, families, career goals, etc. They attend all squadron, group and wing functions. They are involved in councils, advisory boards, community organizations, etc. They gladly come into work while on leave to make sure short-notice tasks get done. They don't do this for glory, they do it because they want their Airmen and squadron to succeed. They have internalized the fact the Air Force is a profession, not a job.

Finally, these Chiefs know how to survive hard times. I don't mean personal survival, rather, they know what it takes to get their Airmen and squadrons through budget crises, personnel cuts, re-organizations, etc. As we cycle through these current tough times, we consult with our Chiefs. We go to them to seek to understand the patience it takes to commit to supporting these changes despite personal feelings and preferences. They help us to understand, that despite our growing pains (or more appropriately our "shrinking pains"), we will never regret our time as part of this profession.

So thank you, Chief Wilson. And thank you to all the others who, like you, dedicated so much of their life to this profession.

(Editor's Note: Chief Master Sgt. Larry Wilson is the 341st Security Forces Group Superintendent. He will retire from the Air Force May 16 in a ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Grizzly Bend Club.)