One Chief holds top enlisted position for two storied AF units

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Andrea Thacker
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
The Flying Tigers and Red Tails share a rich, 60-year history of heritage and valor dating back to the days of the Army Air Corps. One Moody Chief's career has spanned half of that time, and he'll soon use the knowledge and experience he's gained throughout his career to lead Airmen in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Chief Master Sgt. Paul Burgess leaves Moody to become the new command chief master sergeant at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

"You want to talk about heritage and history that has not been missed by me. This is huge and I am honored to have the opportunity," said Chief Master Sgt. Paul Burgess, Moody's former command chief master sergeant. "I'm not missing out on that aspect of it - I'm going to go from being the command chief of the world famous Flying Tigers, to the command chief of the Tuskegee Airmen

Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd Wing commander, said the chief's "can do" attitude will be an asset to the deployed Airmen.

"Chief Burgess will be a perfect fit at Balad," said the colonel. "His experience, wisdom and sense of humor will help him to understand and better support our Airmen accomplishing important tasks to keep building Iraq as a viable and responsible country. His boundless energy will also keep our Airmen motivated so they can continue to do great things."

Due to Moody undergoing many changes during his tour Chief Burgess is no stranger to adapting while working at a base with a high operational tempo.

"I can't take credit for the changes," said Chief Burgess. "However, I was here to see the beginning construction of the new 120-Airman dormitory, the opening of the Michael Maltz First Term Airman Professional Enhancement Center, the first key turn-over to the new residents of Magnolia Grove and the arrival of the A-10C Thunderbolt II from Pope Air Force Base, N.C."

The majority of the changes at Moody have been directed toward the Air Force's focus of taking care families, which Chief Burgess is an ardent supporter.

"His passion for Airmen and their families is amazing," said Colonel Henderson. "The chief and his family were, and still are, very involved in the community. Of course, he will be missed, but our loss will be a big gain for the Tuskegee Airmen of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing."

Besides advising the 332nd AEW commander, Chief Burgess will assist in matters concerning the 8,000-plus Airmen working and operating on one of the largest bases in Iraq.

He will also be responsible for Balad's nine other air expeditionary wings located at Ali Base, Al-Asad Air Base, Sather Air Base and Kirkuk Regional Air Base and the Airmen who are geographically separated but assigned to joint expeditionary taskings around Iraq.

Aiming high, the chief plans to visit every forward operating base assigned to Airmen under his command.

"I know it's a lofty goal, but this tour I want to visit every single forward operating base in the country of Iraq," said the chief. "From Mosul in the north to Basra in the south and all places in between, I will be there."

To get ready to take the role as Balad's top enlisted advisor and travel outside the wire, Chief Burgess trained with members of Moody's own 822nd Security Forces Squadron.

"I have been well-trained and equipped to travel outside the wire," explained Chief Burgess."I had the opportunity to train with the 822nd SFS before they deployed to Iraq and I received some outstanding hands-on training with Safeside.

"I was really impressed to work alongside our partners here at Moody," he added. "I couldn't have gotten better training from anywhere else than right here at Moody AFB and with our partners at the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing's 820th Security Forces Group. Being a command chief in a combat zone - it doesn't get any better than that!"

Although Moody is losing a valuable leader, who has accomplished many things during his two years as command chief, the base is gaining an individual who is no stranger to Moody.

Throughout his career, Chief Master Sgt. Rick Parsons, the 23rd WG's new command chief, has served more than 15 years at Moody.

"Chief Parsons has been down this road before," said Chief Burgess. "He has the background, knows the base and local community, and he understands our mission and operations tempo, which gives him immediate credibility and allows him to hit the ground running."

Chief Burgess has a long list of accomplishments during his tour at Moody, but acknowledges there is still plenty of work to do for his successor.

"Chief Parsons is uniquely suited to step into the command chief position," said Colonel Henderson. "His prior experience at Moody and as the command chief for the 505th Command and Control Wing, combined with his positive attitude, professionalism and dedication will serve the wing, Team Moody and the Air Force Family well. It will be an honor and a pleasure to be able to work closely with him."