Chief leads from front

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Thirty years after he joined the U.S. Air Force, Chief Master Sgt. Tommy McDaniel, 820th Base Defense Group chief enlisted manager, left the Air Force just like he wanted - leading from the front.

On March 21, McDaniel jumped out of the back of an HC-130P Combat King for the last time before his retirement April 20.

"This final jump is a nice acknowledgement by fellow jumpers," said McDaniel. "It's a way to say 'you did well and now it's time to finish strong.' It meant a lot to me and reinforces what an absolute privilege it has been to serve with the 820th and the U.S. Air Force as a senior NCO for more than 18 years."

One of McDaniel's many accomplishments was completing the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course at the age of 45.

"Airborne School is a great opportunity," said McDaniel. "In addition to jumping out of air planes, it builds warrior ethos and sister service credibility.

"I wanted to get out there and lead from the front," he added. " It was also great to interact with the young privates and Airmen."

In addition to completing the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course, McDaniel has also completed the U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper Instructor School.

"McDaniel is an enlisted man's chief and someone to look up to," said Senior Master Sgt. Philip Borneman, 820th Combat Operations Squadron superintendent of logistics and readiness. "He looks out for his Airmen and junior officers. He sets his Airmen up for success and pushes them to do the right thing."

When McDaniel became a first sergeant, he had another opportunity to look after his Airmen. He completed four years as a first sergeant in flying, maintenance, officer accessions and a tour as the superintendent of a mission support group.

During his 30 year career McDaniel has deployed twice to Iraq, once to Afghanistan and once to Kuwait, and spent about five years total away from his family.

"He always made sure family was first," said McDaniel's wife, Debbie. "He made sure that no matter what, we knew family is first. He always said family is the one constant, and was always going that extra mile to stay in touch when he was away."

McDaniel and Debbie have been married for 28 years, and have three children. Debbie says the last 28 years have been a great experience and made their family stronger.

"Whether you are in for four years or 40 years, it is very important to do your best, give your all and cross the finish line with your family intact," said McDaniel.

McDaniel's retirement ceremony is scheduled for April 20 at 3 p.m. at the Moody Field Club.