Airmen honor former senior enlisted leaders

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook
  • 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Airmen gathered to honor the former chief master sergeants of the Air Force with a positional colors ceremony at the Air Force Senior NCO Academy here Feb. 27.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody presided over the ceremony, and presented the chief master sergeant of the Air Force positional colors to several of his predecessors and surviving family members.

The ceremony honored not only the service and contributions of the former chiefs gathered on stage, but also the impact all previous 16 enlisted leaders have had on the enlisted force.

The 16th CMSAF, James A. Roy, opened the ceremony by focusing on the meaning of the colors and honoring the chiefs and the enlisted force.

"This is an opportunity to highlight the enlisted force," Roy said. "It's a great day to celebrate the advancement of a professional enlisted force, because to me that's what this flag represents. As we continue to grow as a force, our enlisted Airmen continue to prove they are leaders who can and have often propelled our Air Force into the future. The Airmen on stage have carried on a legacy of leadership. They grabbed the torch from the Airman before them and used it to light the path to the future."

Roy charged Airmen in attendance to keep the enlisted legacy alive.

"Every day we will continue to forge new paths," he said. "We will continue to evolve, but we must always take time to pause and remember those paths that we have forged. This flag gives us this opportunity. It is a symbol of how far we have come as an enlisted force."

The first presentation went to the first CMSAF, Paul Airey, who was represented at the ceremony by his son Dale Airey, a retired chief master sergeant.

Airey donated the flag to the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall, located on Gunter Annex here, to honor his father's memory and service.

To close the ceremony, Cody spoke of how proud he is of the enlisted force and the former CMSAF's who have led the force to where it stands today.

"These positional colors represent the more than seven million men and women who have become enlisted Airmen in our United States Air Force," he said. "What a significant day in our history to have these men and their families with us to day. This is a once-in-a-lifetime-event for us to all be together."

He closed by expanding on the meaning of the colors and the importance of the enlisted force in the future.

"These positional colors will forever represent each and every Airman and the contributions they made to our United States Air Force and the difference they have made around the world," Cody said. "It is a proud, proud moment for the enlisted force. We stand on the shoulders of giants. That legacy will never be forgotten. But make no mistake about it, every single day, right now today, that legacy goes forward. Our Airmen are defining the future every single moment."

After the ceremony, Sam Parish, the eighth CMSAF, spoke of his faith in the future of the enlisted force.

"If we continue to concentrate on doing the right things at the right times, I guarantee we will have an Air Force that will forge into the future, regardless of size, that will be able to take on any chore or any job that even comes close of being asked of them," Parish said.

Other former chief master sergeants of the Air Force in attendance or represented by a family member were Rodney McKinley, Gerald Murray, Frederick Finch, Eric Benken, Gary Pfingston (represented by his spouse Marsha), James Binnicker, James McCoy and Robert Gaylor.

The chief master sergeant of the Air Force positional colors was unveiled during Roy's transition and retirement ceremony in January 2013.