Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Ariz., welcomed Chief Master Sgt. Terry Oliver as its first African American command chief in April 2020.
As the world struggled to overcome the challenges of a global pandemic, the traditional ceremony to celebrate his new role never materialized. This month, the Wing honors Oliver and African American heritage.
Oliver was born and raised in Little Rock, Ark. with his two brothers and two sisters. He went on to join the U.S. Air Force in March 1989, starting his career as a dedicated crew chief on the F-4 Phantom at Spangdahlem Air Base, West Germany. His active duty career then brought him to Tucson where he transitioned to a drill status guardsman here at Morris Air National Guard Base in 1997.
“When I enlisted in the Air National Guard, I was a DSG for a year,” said Oliver, Morris Air National Guard Base Command Chief. “I came on full time in 1998 and I worked in the phase docks.”
Oliver quickly rose through the ranks starting as a tool room worker and then moving on to section flight chief, then maintenance production supervisor and then aircraft maintenance superintendent after earning the rank of Chief Master Sergeant.
I never really put a lot of thought into what rank I was trying to achieve, said Oliver. I just did my job and it came to me. To be honest, that is how the command chief position came to me. Colonel Butler sought me out and asked me.
“I experienced Chief Oliver’s leadership style first-hand in 2015 when I became maintenance group commander,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Butler, Morris Air National Guard Base Commander. “I quickly learned he was a quiet, proactive leader. The kind that will have airmen line up outside their door for guidance because of the way they lead every day.”
The command chief is responsible for affairs concerning the enlisted personnel and is the chief enlisted advisor to the wing commander on all enlisted matters, including those that affect mission, readiness, training, morale, and technical and professional development.
“I think our people are the most valuable asset,” said Oliver. “We need to let every airman know that they count and make sure they are well informed and taken care of.”
Oliver is the wing’s first African American command chief in its 64-year history.
“I think the fact that I got promoted shows that we have diversity in our wing,” said Oliver. “I don’t want my tenure to be about that though. I want to do a good job for the wing and leave a legacy that’s going to propel the wing forward.”