Five Airmen were recognized Feb. 21 for making the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force during the chief’s recognition ceremony at Club Five Six. The individuals included Chief Master Sgt. Barrington Bartlett, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron; and four chief selects, Senior Master Sgt. David Corbett, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron; Senior Master Sgt. R. Dale Deskins, 56th Maintenance Group; Senior Master Sgt. Donald Stroud, 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron; and Senior Master Sgt. Rocky Thomas, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.
The ceremony began with an introduction of the chief selects followed by the new chiefs walking beneath the traditional sword cordon as an honorable salute to their achievement.
The ceremony followed tradition with toasts commemorating the nation’s flag, the nation, president, chief of staff, chief master sergeant of the Air Force and to those who are serving today. The prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action ceremony was a reminder of fallen heroes. Dinner was served and guest speaker retired Chief Master Sgt. Scott Dearduff stepped to the podium.
“To all chief selects, don’t forget where you came from,” he said. “You’ve got to be that expert because the following years are going to determine how successful you are and how successful your unit is going to be.”
Following Dearduff’s speech was the candle lighting ceremony performed by the new chiefs. The nine candles represented the nine enlisted grades of the Air Force. The light from these candles was symbolic of the light that must shine when darkness and doubt arise. As these candles light the way, the chiefs light the way for those who follow them.
The night was steeped in history, tradition and legacy, according to Chief Master Sgt. John Mazza, 56th Fighter Wing command chief.
“Follow in the footsteps of the retired chiefs who paved the way, love your Air Force and do the absolute very best no matter what your job is,” he said.
The evening closed with remarks from Brig. Gen. Mike Rothstein, 56th FW commander.
“Think outside your unit,” Rothstein said to the new chiefs. “Your leadership is needed across the wing and across the Air Force. Lead and follow furiously while speaking truth.”