Chief Master Sergeant Vincent Howard, 355th Fighter Wing command chief master sergeant, was honored as one of the 25 Most Influential African Americans in Southern Arizona at a ceremony held at the Desert Diamond Hotel and Casino in Tucson May 26.
The event was hosted by the Tucson-Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce and recognized African Americans who are pillars of their community and include entertainers, educators, motivational speakers, law enforcement personnel and government officials.
The ballroom was graced with a large contingent of blue suiters coming out to support the Desert Lightning chief. Nearly 30 members of the Desert Lightning Team joined Chief Howard to honor and celebrate the recognition.
â€œIt really is a great thing to not only know how much of an impact Chief Howard has on the Desert Lightning community as the wingâ€™s top enlisted member, but also that members of the local community recognize the impact he has on the city of Tucson as well,â€ said Master Sgt. Greg Poppe, 355th Communications Squadron first sergeant. â€œThe Tucson community has really embraced our Airmen and this award shows they recognize the impact Chief Howard has in and outside D-Mâ€™s fences.â€
The 25 men and women honored excelled in a wide variety of endeavors, said Dr. Suzanne L. Miles, Pima County Community College interim chancellor.
â€œThe wonderful diversity of Southern Arizona is perhaps the regions greatest strength,â€ Miles said. â€œWhen everyone has the opportunity to share perspectives and experiences, to offer new ideas and innovative approaches, the community is made exponentially stronger.â€
Chief Howard was united with familiar faces at the event. Several first sergeants and DLT Top 3 members joined some young enlisted Airmen and some retired ones to pay tribute to the man; their presence was not lost on the Chief.
â€œYou know, Iâ€™m just really touched right now,â€ Chief Howard said. â€œIâ€™m so touched and humbled that over a long holiday weekend, and on such short notice my peers, both past and present, came out. It really means a lot.â€
Chief Howardâ€™s 29-year journey in the Air Force will come to a close this summer as he is slated to retire in August. The latest recognition is added to a list of accomplishments during the Chiefâ€™s career that began with being named Honor Graduate from Basic Military Training in 1983, several distinguished graduate honors throughout his military education and â€œFirst Sergeant of the Yearâ€ in 2004 while assigned to the 17th Training Wing, Presidio of Monterey, Calif.