HomeNewsArticle Display

Celebrating 50 years of the CMSAF

In April 1967, Chief Master Sgt. Paul Airey set on a path untraveled by any other Airman in the U.S. Air Force, and became the first chief master sergeant of the Air Force. Since then, only 17 other men have followed in Airey’s esteemed path, yet the impact of these Airmen continuously ricocheted across the force.

In April 1967, Chief Master Sgt. Paul Airey set on a path untraveled by any other Airman in the U.S. Air Force, and became the first chief master sergeant of the Air Force. Since then, only 17 other men have followed in Airey’s esteemed path, yet the impact of these Airmen continuously ricocheted across the force.

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- In April 1967, Chief Master Sgt. Paul Airey set on a path untraveled by any other Airman in the U.S. Air Force.

“It was 50 years ago that [Airey] became the first Airman bestowed the honor of being called chief master sergeant of the Air Force,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during the CMSAF transition ceremony Feb. 17, 2017. “This position would shape how the Air Force grew as the newest service.”

In the early 1960s, Congressman Mendel Rivers issued a bill that mandated the appointment of senior enlisted advisers for all services. Though the bill wasn’t passed, Air Force senior leaders decided to create the CMSAF position.

Then-CSAF Gen. John P. McConnell announced the position in 1967 and explained its criteria and duties, “The man selected to fill this job will be used as a representative of the Airman force when and where this is appropriate, and will serve as a sounding board for ideas and proposals affecting Airman matters.”

According to the Airmen Memorial Museum, Airey knew the position was not to be taken lightly.

“I ran into a lot of people who said it was going to be a phony position – there were people who thought that,” Airey said. “There were people who said it was something to placate the enlisted force. There were people who said they wouldn’t have it because it wasn’t going to do what they advertised it as. I couldn’t believe this. I had enough faith in the system … it was going to be set up in all good faith to do something for the enlisted force, to make it an avenue of communication, to try and make it a better Air Force, which I, to this day, believe the job has accomplished.”

Since then, only 17 other men have followed in Airey’s esteemed path, yet the impact of these Airmen continuously ricocheted across the force. Over the last five decades, CMSAFs have tackled low retention rates, enhanced professional military education, improved the enlisted promotion system, advocated quality of life initiatives, reinforced the importance of higher education, fought for budget increases and supported joint and coalition operations.

Those improvements may not have been made without Airey taking that first step 50 years ago.

“He was absolutely the right choice to become our first chief master sergeant of the Air Force,” Goldfein said. “He fought for a standardized promotion system and laid the foundation for what would become the professional military education that we know today … creating American Airmen – our most powerful weapon.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
.@AETCommand officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next https://t.co/qB5YwQSLip
RT @SecAFOfficial: The #AirForce We Need, begins with resilient and ready #Airmen. #ASC18 #CMSAF https://t.co/ogfN6Xtn2V https://t.co/kyCJ…
We're going #LIVE as #CMSAF Wright speaks at #ASC18. Watch on our Facebook page at 10:45 a.m. EDT:… https://t.co/LIc3O6CdiW
Our own @AstroHague will launch into #Space in less than a month! https://t.co/RaQsXp14NP
In order to support the NDS, the Air Force We Need will require a restructure of our expeditionary force structure.… https://t.co/O63bDWHAbC
RT @AF_Academy: The #CaptainMarvel trailer is finally here. Now, we're not saying we make superheroes but she's not wearing a @WestPoint_US
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: To ensure our 386 Operational Squadrons are trained, equipped and ready to fight, we will depend on the entire Air For…
RT @AFSpace: Honored to have @VP Pence & @SecAFOfficial visit the #AFSPC booth today on the #AFBday! They met some of our amazing AFSPC Air…
RT @Yankees: Tonight, we celebrated the @usairforce's 71st Birthday with: - Presentation of Colors by the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard from J…
RT @SecAFOfficial: Preparing for the future with the Air Force We Need. #ViciousHarmony #ASC18 https://t.co/detSNKBxaj
RT @AETCommand: HAPPENING NOW: A 12th Flying Training Wing T-6 Texan II crashed near Rolling Oaks Mall at approximately 4 p.m. today. The…
Mrs. Wright on how to be successful & maintain marriage & family: The secret is, communicate & manage expectations… https://t.co/3yXFKn4EQg
#CMSAF on how to be successful & maintain marriage & family: Communication is the key. Maybe reading the 5 Love Lan… https://t.co/4roQsFIPIv
.@CSAF21Spouse: I love the unique culture we have a as a #military, how the spouses take care of each other, & how… https://t.co/EP5MC6Koid
.@SecAFOfficial on how to be successful & maintain marriage & family: Humor is underrated in relationships. Being a… https://t.co/QscPEobbAQ
.@GenDaveGoldfein on how to be successful & maintain marriage & family: Be present when you’re off work and spendin… https://t.co/DZyG9l8nw9