Chief Master Sgt. Christopher McCollor, Air Force Test Center command chief, officially retired from the U.S. Air Force April 25 in a ceremony held in Hangar 1600. The event celebrated McCollor’s and his wife, Nancy’s, 30-year Air Force career.
The presiding official over the ceremony was Maj. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., Air Force Test Center commander.
McCollor’s story began in Farmingdale, Maine, where he was raised. He was in high school when he met his wife, Nancy. After graduation, McCollor decided to pursue a college degree, but after two years “the money ran out” so he and Nancy got married and he took a job managing an auto parts store.
Eventually, McCollor decided to ask his wife, what she thought of him joining the Air Force, to which she replied, “Sounds good to me.” The idea of joining the Air Force had long appealed to McCollor, but his career in auto parts gave him the push he needed to finally join.
When McCollor took his career aptitude test, he had scored in the high 90′s. Looking at his high scores, the recruiter asked, “What career field would you like to go into? You name it, you’re going into it because you scored so well.”
To the recruiter’s surprise, McCollor asked to be a personnelist. Since there was a waiting list for that career field, the recruiter explained that McCollor would have to delay his enlistment.
So he waited.
McCollor’s father had served as a personnelist. He recalled that his father had taken care of others, helped people and he was “very happy doing that.”
When he did finally enlist in 1984, the plan was to stay in for four years. But as soon as he reached his first assignment†at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.,†McCollor and his wife had fallen in love with the Air Force.
His first Enlisted Performance Review†at Vandenberg said that McCollor was “one of the most outstanding Airmen I’ve ever seen” and recommended him for senior airmen. On his next EPR he was listed as a senior airman. The one after that said he demonstrated, “Professionalism beyond reproach.”
“Others don’t get as many accolades in their careers as he got on his first base,” said Bunch. Adding that McCollor continued to out-perform his peers at each base he was sent to throughout his career.
It was at Vandenberg that the McCollor family expanded with the birth of their daughter Erika.
Eight years after arriving at Vandenberg, “Team McCollor” travelled to the United Kingdom where they spent three years stationed at RAF Alconbury. From there, they went to Barksdale, Louisiana for five years.
Their next stop was Columbus AFB, Mississippi, as a senior master sergeant. While there, he was selected for his fifth deployment to Ali Al Salem, Kuwait.
“This was at a time when our nation was posturing to move into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein’s regime,” said Bunch.
From Mississippi, McCollor was sent to Headquarters Air Force†Materiel Command†at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where he served as the Chief of the Airmen Assignments Division. It was during that assignment, that he was promoted to chief master sergeant, 20 years after joining the Air Force.
McCollor was serving at the 96th Mission Support Group at Eglin AFB, Fla.,†when he deployed to Kuwait again, as the 586th Air Expeditionary Group superintendent.
When he returned, he assumed the role and responsibilities as the 412th Test Wing command chief at Edwards AFB, Calif.
“In this role, he helped lead the enterprise through tumultuous times including sequestration, furlough, the implementation of the Developmental Special Duty program and the most comprehensive and complex force reduction programs in Air Force history,” said Bunch.
According to Bunch only one in every 10,000 enlisted servicemembers makes the rank of chief. Of that one in 10,000, only five-percent have the opportunity to serve as a command chief.
But what really “blew [him] away” was that in 30 years of service, McCollor has never called in sick.
“He has done everything and more that I have ever asked him to do as a command chief,” said Bunch. “We’re going to be on very solid ground as we go forward.”
Addressing McCollor, Bunch said, “A job is to prepare others to come behind us and you have done a great job of doing that. You should feel very comfortable stepping aside because you have trained the next generation well.”
The McCollor’s will head east to enjoy their retirement near family.
ìI signed up for four years, I really did, that’s a true story. My parents could’ve told you the day on the calendar, that I was coming home,” said McCollor.” I love this. I’ve loved all of this so much and I never wanted it to end, still don’t want it to end.”