Chief master sergeant rank turns 50

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. William Lloyd
  • 49th Mission Support Group
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the rank of chief master sergeant.

As I look back at Air Force history, I believe the creation of the rank is one of the Air Forces' most significant milestones because it allows the Air Force to set apart our top one percent of the enlisted force and not only recognize them as such, but put them in a position to primarily oversee and mentor the Airmen in their purview.

It was Dec. 1, 1959, when the Air Force introduced the rank chief master sergeant, which over the years has become one of the most respected and prestigious ranks in the Air Force.

Some of Holloman's own chief master sergeants are honored to wear the rank of chief during its golden anniversary.

"[I am] happy and proud to be a part of it," said Chief Master Sgt. Jerome Baker, a chief of five years and 49th Mission Support Group superintendant. "How awesome it would feel for someone to remember me when the 100th Anniversary rolls around and say, 'He made a difference'."

The first promotion cycle elevated 625 Airmen to the new rank of chief. The promotees were selected from a pool of about 58,000 and became known as the "Charter Chiefs." The Charter Chiefs served with professionalism, excellence, pride and dignity, while establishing the highest standards of leadership. Today, there are less than 100 surviving Charter Chiefs, all of whom forged the ground rules for chief master sergeants of today.

"It's more than wearing the stripes on my shoulders and it's much more than being an E-9," said Chief Baker. "Air Force chiefs are visible, out-front leaders and always seeking to make a difference."

Chief Baker also offered his advice for those aspiring to reach the ranks of chief master sergeant.

"People first," said the Chief. "Like any great senior noncommissioned officer, you learn quickly that it's not about you. It's all about our Airmen and [molding them] to take your place. I've always believed that if you take care of your people, they will take care of you."

Another Holloman chief echoed his advice for those about to sew on their 8th stripe.

"To the senior master sergeants about to put on chief, you can't be selfish anymore," said Chief Master Sgt. Katherine Rose, superintendent, 49th Materiel Maintenance Group. "They need to prepare to be watched 24/7, on and off duty."

In honor of the Charter Chiefs and those who paved the way; and in gratitude and respect to today's chief master sergeants, we say thank you for your dedication and selflessness as you mentor, grow, serve and lead your Airmen.