HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The designation as a “1-percenter” commonly carries less-than-desirable connotations, depending on the context and demographic to which it is applied.
In the United States Air Force, being part of the top one percent distinguishes Airmen who have achieved the highest enlisted rank, chief master sergeant. On March 4, Team Hill held a time-honored ceremony to recognize 16 newly-selected Total Force Chiefs from the Guard, Reserve and active-duty components.
For many years, new Chiefs have been formally recognized with medallion presentations, introductions, candle-lighting ceremonies and plaque presentations.
“It was a humbling experience for me,” said 368th Recruiting Squadron Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Carmelo Vega, when recalling his own promotion. “I was thankful to all my past and present co-workers, supervisors, mentors and above all, my family, for molding and supporting me throughout my career.”
75th Air Base Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Rodney Gaither spoke of the importance of the highest enlisted rank during the medallion presentations.
“Think back to 1958 when Congress authorized the rank of E-9, chief master sergeant. They called it at the time a ‘super rank.’ I will tell you that it is still super, but it depends on you,” he said. “I will tell you to prepare for the teachable moments. Whether it is in the office or on the flight line, you have to be ready for the teachable moments.”
When Airmen put the Chief’s stripe on their shoulder, it is not a finish line; it is the beginning of a new and vital role in the Air Force.
“No one ever reaches the highest enlisted rank without ups and downs in their careers and experiences,” said 388th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Beth Topa, guest speaker for the event. “The key is sharing that with others so that hopefully they don’t fall into the same pitfalls. Ultimately, we are training our replacements.”
Vega echoed the evening’s theme.
“In my mind, (we) carry the responsibility to shape the future of our Air Force,” he said.
Chief Master Sgt. Mark L. Allred
Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Carpenter
Senior Master Sgt. Walter D. Delauder
Senior Master Sgt. Dennis J. Dyke
Senior Master Sgt. Michael P. Farr
Senior Master Sgt. Cory Frommer
Chief Master Sgt. Jason R. Gall
Chief Master Sgt. Reynaldo R. Garza Jr.
Chief Master Sgt. Davick A. Hansen
Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey W. Hartman
Chief Master Sgt. Mark V. Howell
Chief Master Sgt. Lance E. Loveland
Chief Master Sgt. Wayne S. Ormond
Chief Master Sgt. Lonnie J. Stamper
Chief Master Sgt. Joseph R. Taranto
Chief Master Sgt. Rulon N. Walker