Commentary

February 28, 2014

Airman celebrates top one percent

Tech. Sgt. Joseph S. Netti
Defense Information Systems Agency – Pacific

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — When asked to be part of a chief master sergeant recognition ceremony here, I happily accepted.

I love celebrating the accomplishments of our Airmen; it reminds me that we are part of the profession of arms. At the time, I had never been to a chief’s recognition ceremony, and I must admit that as the event drew near, I began to feel like a fish out of water. However, as I am a technical sergeant in the Air Force, it is my job to figure these things out. 

My approach — I just bore in mind that the ceremony was not about me. It was about 16 Airmen reaching a tremendous milestone as the top one percent of the Air Force.  I focused on doing my part to make their night memorable.

In the final days leading up to the event, I noticed I was not the only one with this mentality. As logistical problems mounted, I watched these chiefs work together and overcome for the good of the event.

All of the dedication, planning and hard work came to fruition on the day of the ceremony. I attended the practice that morning to get some particulars for my own purposes, at which point I took in my surroundings, and saw more chiefs and chief selects than I have ever seen in one place. With more than 16 years in service, this is no small statement.

Watching them all interact was intriguing to me. In the midst of all the activity, several chiefs found time to teach some of the younger Airmen from the setup crew.  It reminded me of my time in the tactical world, when our job was to accomplish the mission expediently and efficiently while training our replacements.

As the final pieces were set in place, my excitement grew.

The recognition ceremony itself was amazing and I was proud to be a part of it.

The last-minute “fill-in” guest speaker, a major general, was no fill-in. He was spectacular and it was obvious he held the rank of chief in very high regard.

I couldn’t help but think about those that may be wondering: “What’s the big deal?  Why so much emphasis and so many resources on a ceremony?  Don’t we have a job to do?”  These are tumultuous times within the military, as the business side of our profession is presently in the process of a significant manning and budget reduction.  The speaker hit the nail on the head as he explained to our new chiefs that their importance can never be overstated. 

For every E-9 in the Air Force, there are at least 99 Airmen behind them. We 99 need the leadership of our one chief now more than ever. It is ceremonies like these that remind me that the Air Force will continue to be the best in the world because of the leadership and mentorship of those above us. We should all be proud of each other’s accomplishments and the heritage of those who came before us, especially in times of uncertainty – that to me, is priceless.




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