NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NEV. — Former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Robert D. Gaylor spoke to Airmen at the 57th Wing’s annual awards banquet at the Club here Feb. 8.
Gaylor, who is the oldest living person to ever hold Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, regularly visits Air Force bases to speak to Airmen.
“It was an honor and a privilege to have him speak,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Grisafe, 57th WG Command Chief Master Sergeant’s assistant. “He’s the fifth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, a phenomenal speaker, and his presence was great.”
Gaylor, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1948 and retired in 1979, knows that the hard work Airmen give is noticed in today’s Air Force.
“It gives me great pleasure in giving thanks to those who are [being recognized],” Gaylor said. “People need to hear thank you for what you do.”
During his career, Airmen were rarely recognized for their hard work and achievements.
“There was no Airman of the month speeches,” Gaylor said. “After eight years, I got NCO of the quarter and only got a $5 dollar voucher to the [Base Exchange].”
When Gaylor became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in 1977, the Air Force was 465,000 strong with Airmen that seemingly didn’t want to receive any type of award.
“Back then, programs lacked sincerity,” he said. “Airmen were saying, ‘don’t pick me for that award.’”
In today’s Air Force that includes draw downs and retention boards to reduce the size of the force, Airmen are trying everything they can to give themselves a one up.
Gaylor believes that “Airmen have to earn it,” and that hard work is really what separates Airmen from one another.
“The Air Force only owes Airmen two things compensation and benefits because you don’t want to work for free and opportunities,” he said. “Airmen have to work hard and earn opportunities to do better things.”
With Airmen being rewarded for their actions more and more, Gaylor believes the image of the Air Force is greater and is proud of the change that Airmen have made since he retired.
“The image [of the Air Force] is great with everything improving from my days as chief,” he said. “I thank you, the Airmen, for coming a long way, and I appreciate this opportunity to come out and speak to you all.”