Command chief retires after 30 years of 'hard work'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Eric Schloeffel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Moody's top enlisted Airman laced up his combat boots for the last time Dec. 14 as he retired during a ceremony at the Moody Field Club.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Henry Morgan transitioned to civilian life after more than 30 years of dedication to the Air Force mission, leaving behind the thousands of Airmen he has mentored, praised and touted as the integral gears behind U.S. air dominance.

"For the past 30 years, I've never entered a closet to figure out what to wear the next morning - even the thought seems a little overwhelming," said Chief Morgan. "I know from seeing our interaction with other global forces throughout the world; we have the best Air Force in history. It's definitely a sad feeling to leave this organization while knowing this fact."

Chief Morgan started his career in 1977 as a telecommunications operations specialist at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He has more than 15 assignments under his belt and held a wide variety of jobs - from operating communications systems on airborne warning and control systems to managing a data-processing center. During his early Air Force years, the chief had no expectation of attaining his current post.

"It was never my aspiration to reach a specific rank; my main goal was to be the best I could in anything I did," said Chief Morgan. "Ever since I started in the Air Force, I've tried to pour my heart and soul into everything I've done."

From Desert Storm to Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, the Air Force has undergone significant changes since Chief Morgan sewed on his first stripe in 1978. But while the chief believes most of these changes have been for the better, they also laid the groundwork for a service that transcends the "nine-to-five" stereotypes.

"This is not your mother's and father's Air Force anymore," said Chief Morgan. "The reality is people die in our business, and we need to be prepared at all times to go out there and conduct our mission. If there is any lapse of training, or if our minds aren't right before going out to accomplish our job, people will end up getting hurt."

The chief recently faced these harsh realities of war during a deployment to Iraq in 2006 - an experience which he refers to as the most rewarding aspect of his Air Force career.

"I was the superintendent of in-lieu of Airmen who operated outside the wire; where the rubber met the road," said Chief Morgan, who earned a Bronze Star during the deployment. "The deployment was a very humbling experience for me, as I was among the true heroes who tackled the day-in and day-out issues on the mean streets of Baghdad while helping transition Iraq to democracy."

While reaching command chief takes many years of dedicated service and sacrifice, Chief Morgan also worked hard to accomplish personal feats in his off-duty time. These accomplishments included earning a Bachelor's degree in Business and Management from University of Maryland. His advice to enlisted Airman follows these philosophies of ensuring strides are not only made in an Air Force career, but also in their personal lives.

"Young Airmen should always have a balance in their life, whether they are married or single," said Chief Morgan. "They need to take time for themselves to meet their own individual, emotional, physical and spiritual goals - which in-turn helps them meet the demands of today's Air Force."

As the chief spends his final days in this small South Georgian community, he will soon be met with another opportunity to support those who wear the uniform to defend freedom. The next stop in the soon-to-be Mr. Morgan's career is Huntsville, Ala., where he will work with the defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

"The good thing is I will be still associated with doing something for the military - giving back to the warriors who are fighting the fight," said Chief Morgan. "I will be a deputy program manager for a homeland defense system - ensuring these systems are correctly and efficiently installed in the various areas of responsibility. Civilian life will be a major transition in my life, but like anything, I will adjust."

But while the chief may soon bring a suit to the dry cleaners instead of his battle dress uniform, his 30 years in the Air Force will always hold the proof that "putting heart and soul into everything" are the building blocks for success.

"The Air Force allowed me to interface with some great warriors and outstanding leaders, and to understand the magnitude of what national defense is all about," said Chief Morgan. "It helped me become a man and showed that, through hard work, only the sky is the limit."