Chief master sergeant: The legacy lives on

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Felty
  • 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services Flight chief
December 1, 2009 will be the 50-year anniversary of the top one percent of the enlisted force--chief master sergeant.

This anniversary marks the continuation of a legacy that will live on for many years to come.

Our first chiefs that were promoted Dec. 1, 1959 were known as "charter chiefs." The 625 individuals that were selected to the Air Force's highest enlisted rank started a legacy of leadership, technical aptitude, honor and values that is portrayed in every chief.

Although for all of their expertise, those first chiefs didn't gain overnight fame or fortune.

As a matter of fact, the pay rates in effect at that time garnered almost $600 a month (maximum base pay was $440 plus $30 for rations and $120 for quarters).

Just think, today's airman basic enters the service with a base pay higher than the combined pay of the most senior chief master sergeant in 1959.

The legacy that was started by our charter chiefs is still going strong in 2009. Every chief past, present and future is a part of the legacy that started a mere 50 years ago.

Though the traditions of becoming a chief may have changed through the decades, the honor and distinction of being a chief remains the same. This honor and distinction is reflected in the mantra that we all adhere to and follow - the Chief's Creed:

Chief master sergeants are individually to be regarded as people
· who cannot be bought,
· whose word is their bond,
· who put character above wealth,
· who possess opinions and a will,
· who are larger than their vocations,
· who will not lose their individuality in a crowd,
· who do not hesitate to take chances,
· who will be as honest in small things as in great ones,
· who will make no compromise with wrong,
· whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires and interests,
· who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as prosperity,
· who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and hard-headedness are the best qualities for winning success,
· who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular, who can say "no" with emphasis, though the entire world is saying "yes".

This mantra should not just be adhered to by chiefs, but by everyone in the Air Force.

It has truly been an honor to serve as a chief in today's Air Force.

I tell everyone that I am "living the dream," which is to say that being a part of the Air Force and representing all Airmen, no matter what rank, as one of their senior enlisted leaders is beyond all expectations.

To be a part of today's Air Force not only as a chief, but as an Airman is truly a privilege that should not be taken lightly.

Today all Airmen from airman basic to chief master sergeant and officers from 2nd lieutenants to general should "live the dream" each and every day and take ownership of the processes under our control to ensure that our Air Force continues to lead the charge under the Core Values: integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.

Though the mission and applications may have changed through the years, the over arching focus has always remained the same - to protect and defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

As chiefs we will continue to train, guide and lead our subordinates to ensure that the legacy lives on for another 50 years...

Happy Anniversary chief master sergeants!