50 Years of Outstanding Airmen Forum
Moderator: Former CMSAF Jim McCoy
Mr. Condon: It is my privilege to introduce the Moderator for this forum. This is going to be a little more lengthy introduction than Iím sure Chief McCoy would like, but we have a history between the two of us as well.
I mentioned the opportunity that I had to travel down to Gunter for the graduation ceremonies of the Senior NCO Academy. You may or may not know that the Air Force Association sponsors an Academic Achievement Award that is given to the top academic achiever of each graduating class of the Senior NCO Academy.
About three years or so ago we re-named that award in honor of the sixth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Chief Jim McCoy. So Jim and I have had the opportunity over the last two years to co-present that award during the graduation ceremonies down there in Montgomery.
So it has been a very real pleasure and privilege for me to be able to do that along with Jim for a couple of reasons. One is that in addition to being the sixth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Jim also is a former National President and Chairman of the Board of the Air Force Association. So we share that in common. But our roots really go much deeper than that. Jim McCoy and I both graduated from the same high school, a little bitty school in a little bitty town in Atchison, Kansas. Jim has always been smarter than I am, so he graduated a little before I did, but we have just a wonderful heritage that began with our education, some things we have shared in common.
Iíve known Jim now for about 15 years and have greatly enjoyed my association with him and his wife Kathy. They are great patriots, great Americans, and great supporters of our United States Air Force.
Without further ado it is my pleasure to turn this forum over to the sixth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Jim McCoy.
CMSAF (Ret) McCoy: Thank you very much, Pat. I appreciate that. You said those words just like I told you how to this morning.
Good afternoon and welcome to the 50th Anniversary of the Outstanding Airmen of the Air program. Iíd like to introduce the members of our panel up here today and a little later on theyíre going to have an opportunity to say a few things about what the Outstanding Airmen of the Air Program meant to them. Thatís our whole idea here today, is to talk about that and to share our experiences with you. There are many of you in this room
First of all, before we recognize you, first of all Iíd like to introduce a member of the class, and thatís the way Iíll say it, a member of the Class of 1978, Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Chuck Zimkas from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
From the Class of 1991 and which I had the privilege as the President to appoint him as the Chairman of the Enlisted Council, Chief Master Sergeant (Retired) Mike Reynolds.
Our active duty member from the Class of 2001, from Randolph Air Force Base in the Air Force Personnel Center, Senior Master Sergeant, Chief Master Sergeant Select Maria Cornelia.
As I said, youíll have a little bit of time to have an opportunity to listen to them and to hear what they have to say. But once again, I think this is a great thing and we owe the Air Force Association a great deal of thanks for having not only this forum, but to recognize the many people that have had the opportunity to become one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the United States Air Force, and I want to thank not only the Air Force Association but also their industrial partners that helped sponsor us when we came in years ago, and in my case quite a few years ago. I think itís important to keep that in mind, and particularly to do it here at this Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition. This is especially true since we celebrate 50 years of the program, of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year program.
First of all what Iíd like to do is to recognize the newest class of the Outstanding Airmen, the 2006 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. Would you all please stand?
As Chief Murray and I told them Saturday night, get lots of rest. Itís going to be a busy week for you, and I know that tonight is a night that youíll never forget. I know Kathy and I havenít forgot it all these years. So thatís our newest class. I know when you get to know them youíll understand why they have been recognized as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Now I would like all the former Outstanding Airmen of the Years to please stand and let us recognize you and to say thank you for coming.
As you can see, thereís quite a few here in the audience. If you keep that in mind and if you remember those of us that are an Outstanding Airman of the Year, you know you can recognize that thereís only been 12 a year, and since this is 50 years, it doesnít take too long to figure out that - Chuck Zimkas had to figure it out for Mike Reynolds - thatís a little over 700 people that have received this recognition throughout the years.
I would like to especially recognize one of my predecessors as a Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force who was the Class of 1967, and thatís Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (Retired) Don Harlow. As I said, he was a member of the Class of í67. He was an extremely strong supporter of this program and rarely missed an opportunity to attend the Outstanding Airmen of the Year dinner at the Air Force Association. As you know, Don passed away in June of 1997.
Hereís what weíre going to do today, if I can. Iím going to ask each of the panelists to make some short comments, as I said, and to give their version of what the Outstanding Airmen of the Year program has meant for them.
But before we do that Iíd like to give you a very short history of the program and then weíll kind of wrap it up with some questions or comments or suggestions or rumors or whatever you want to start about what weíre doing.
Let me first of all just lead into the history. Thereís a gentleman by the name of John O. Gray that has a long, long history with the Air Force Association. In 1994 when he was a member of the AFA Staff he wrote a very succinct history of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year program. That history is on file at the AFA and if youíre interested in it you can ask them about it. Iím not sure, but it may be on their web site.
But the event goes back to 1956, obviously, 50 years. But John Gray was a member of the Air Staff and he was asked by Jim Straubel who was the AFA Executive Director at the time, they were looking for something they could do, the Air Force Association. Since it was a very young association in 1956, what they could do to highlight the manpower issue problems that they were having in the United States Air Force. The theme that year was Manpower in the Jet Age. Interesting, when you think about that, but that was their theme for that particular year.
As I said, the Air Force was only nine years old at the time and the AFA had been pleading with the Congress to provide adequate pay and allowances not only for all the personnel of the services, but particularly our enlisted men and women. That was the first year that the Outstanding Airmen of the Year program was born, you might say.
What Jim Straubel asked John Gray to do was to ask each major air command to select an Outstanding Airman, bring him up here to the AFA at the national convention, and be recognized as one of the 12. Over the years, the beginning years, that amounted to anywhere from 20 to 24 to 26, depending on how many major air commands, special operating agencies, et cetera, there were.
But in 1970 the Air Force Association recognized that this was getting a little burdensome and a little expensive. So they suggested, and again John Gray in his great and wonderful wisdom, and he was the Assistant Executive Director at the time, he recommended that we cut it down to ten and call it the Ten Outstanding Airmen of the Year, based upon the highly successful Junior Chamber of Commerce Program of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America.
Upon coordination with the Air Staff there was a gentleman on the Air Staff that had an affliction for the movie, The Dirty Dozen. He said no, we should have 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, and we should call them the 12 Outstanding Airmen of whatever year it is.
We ought to be pleased that the Air Staff and AFA came up with that title versus the 12 Outstanding Dirty Dozen of the Year. [Laughter].
Anyway, in the late 1970s and the early Ď80s most of the outstanding airmen that were selected were of high enlisted grades. For example, I was a Chief Master Sergeant, and there were three Chief Master Sergeants in our class, one of which is here I understand. But anyway, also in the first quite a few years from almost the end of the Ď70s, only one woman was recognized as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the year. Over the years that has changed. In this group today that you just met, there are three women that are being recognized and have continued to be recognized as Maria is, as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
A brief history. Lots more history to that, but itís very brief.
At this time I would like to ask each of the panel members to kind of discuss what the program has meant to them, not only since they became an Outstanding Airman of the Year, but in their retirement years as well.
CMSgt (Ret) Zimkas: Good afternoon.
Itís about 28 years ago I came to this hotel to be one of the 12 Outstanding. One thingís changed since then. I had hair in 1978. [Laughter].
One of the things I really enjoyed about the program when we came here 28 years ago is my wife accompanying me on the trip. She participated in all the great things that youíre going to be doing this week. I thought that was really neat, because in the Zimkas household the promotions and the recognition is a family affair. For me to get where I was my family had to make some sacrifices, because to be selected as one of the 12 Outstanding you've got to do a lot of other things and work the job. There are four sons that we had, and there were times that I was doing something in the community to continue that, and my sons didnít have time with me, nor my wife. But to bring her here in Washington, DC and to participate and to be recognized.
Iím sure thatís the same with you. When you brought your spouses, some bring moms and dads, but let me tell you what, it all starts there. Itís that commitment and that sacrifice of family. Let me tell you, get a lot of sleep.
The other thing was, our Council had an opportunity with the Enlisted Council, and the tasking that we got in 1978 was retention. In 1978 retention wasnít that great. It was neat for us to sit down and put together a packet on telling the Air Force or guiding or providing counsel to the Air Force on how to improve upon retention.
We had three meetings throughout the year on that, but we kept contact with each other between faxes Ė e-mails werenít there in 1978. It was a neat project, and I guess I didnít do too good of a good job, because they held me over another year on the Council. But we worked that and we provided what we thought was a great product for the Air Force to work.
Iím assuming that that still continues. The 12 Outstanding, what a better group to have put together and present a particular topic or something that we need some guidance and council in the enlisted.
After I came to Washington, DC, the next promotion cycle I made Chief Master Sergeant. I think Iíd have to look upon competition as tight, and that may have been that one little thing that took me over and was promoted to Chief.
Then a few years later I was appointed to be the NORAD Senior Enlisted Advisor and the Aerospace Defense Command Senior Enlisted Advisor, and once again, I think being one of the 12 Outstanding, that helped.
But not only being in the 12 Outstanding. When you go back to your bases and that whole year, at least in Aerospace Defense Command which is no longer a command, I was gainfully employed. Employed to go out to the leadership schools and talk to the leadership people. Gainfully employed in town, going to events, promoting our United States Air Force and what a great opportunity that was for me and for them. A lot of people, when they see the recognition and they see that badge you wear on your uniform, thatís a goal. I want to be just like them. What do I need to do to become one of them? You all know what that is. Thatís a lot of hard work and commitment to the United States Air Force. Thereís only a select group that come every year before that, so you've got to hold yourself proud.
The other thing that I really enjoy, and Iíve been retired now for a while, but still the opportunity for me to look at our United States Air Force, to look at you in the airports, to look at you doing your jobs and doing your thing. Thatís the other thing. If I wasnít even a 12 Outstanding Airman, I would have still loved the opportunity to serve our United States Air Force, the greatest Air Force in the world, and you've heard that from numerous people.
I go to Air Force Academy football games, and seeing those people in the uniform, what a great opportunity to serve our country and serve our United States Air Force.
I consider myself very very lucky to become one of the 12. I always think, I wonder who that 13th person was and how they felt kind of a thing.
I commend the Air Force Association for bringing people here and showing you and meeting you with the leadership. The other services donít do that. Iíve had a lot of Army folks and Navy folks come and say boy, thatís a great program. I wish we could do that. It is a great program. Itís a great program, honor and recognizing Air Forceís finest.
Once again, I appreciated the opportunity to participate in our Air Force, serve our Air Force, and one of the highlights of my career that Iíll never forget, when I came here 28 years ago to be one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the greatest Air Force in the world. Thank you.
CMSgt (Ret) Mike Reynolds: First, let me say in my heart I honestly donít think that I was one of the 12 Outstanding of the year. I served that position, but I donít think I deserved it. I happened to be at the right place at the right time, and to this day I still thank Saddam Hussein for me being one of the 12 Outstanding because I was one of the first guys to get to deploy on Desert Storm and then that was written up into the package and the rest is history.
I need to say one thing. Is Susan Rubel out here? We owe her a great round of applause for putting all this together.
Sheís been so buy and stretched so think working with the current 12 and the former 12, I donít know how she does it. But anyway, thank you Susan.
What has it meant for me? Networking. It gave me the opportunity to network with so many great people. The two Chiefs up here. Chief McCoy, I would have never had a chance to meet probably unless I was on the 12 Outstanding, Chief Finch, Chief Murray, all the former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force.
Quite honestly, I was just going along in my Air Force career quite happy being a loadmaster on a C-130 aircraft and opening the door and kicking people out. I wasnít really involved in the Sarge Association, the Air Force Association, the NCOA or any of the others. The 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year program gave me an opportunity to see what those programs do for us every day. Itís unbelievable. Once you get inside the working of the AFA and see what theyíre doing on a daily basis for all the enlisted men and women of the Air Force, itís unbelievable. So it gave me the opportunity.
It motivated me to get involved and to do more than I was doing previously. So I got involved with AFA and the other organizations as well.
Ultimately I think it was a contributing factor to becoming the Senior Enlisted Advisor at the time, Command Chief later, of AFSOC which was probably the most interesting and enjoyable job I ever had during my Air Force career. AFSOC was a unique command at the time and had a lot of unique challenges, so every day it was extremely interesting to go to work and I really loved it.
After I retired the 12 OAY program still is tied to my name so itís a great opportunity to meet in forums like this and to get out and see people. I still occasionally get asked to go speak at leadership schools and academies and others groups in the local area where I work out of, Robins Air Force Base. They still call on you because of your title of the 12 OAY to come out and speak and be with the younger troops. Thatís absolutely outstanding.
So if I could say one thing that itís done for me, it helped me to understand what the AFA does for the Air Force, thatís the first and foremost; and secondly, it helped me to network and build a great network of friends and people that otherwise I probably never would have had the opportunity to meet.
I canít say enough about our former Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force. Itís absolutely amazing what they do for us every day. And I donít have to say this because Iím kissing up to anybody. Iím obviously not going to get promoted again. But these guys Ė well, maybe just a little bit. [Laughter]. But these guys do such a great job for us. Itís absolutely unbelievable.
Somebody asked me the other day and I told them Chief McCoy kind of took me under his wing when I became the 12 OAY, and kind of directed me Ė No, he actually told me where I should be going. I kind of listened to him and took it from there.
I donít want to take up all the time. Itís just been outstanding, and I can tell you the current 12, youíre going to have a blast tonight. Chief McCoy already mentioned that. The AFA puts on one of the best shows you will ever see anywhere in the world. Itís absolutely wonderful. So do get plenty of rest, and weíll see you guys around. Thanks.
SMSgt Cornelia: Good afternoon. At the time of my selection I was a Master Sergeant. I had recently sewn on Master Sergeant. Really, the whole experience was quite humbling. I think itís the first time that I began to realize that the things that I did or the things I was successful in really werenít about me. It was about the people who I worked for, who helped put me in those positions and give me those opportunities, the people I worked with, and the people who worked for me. So it was a combination of all the people around me who led to my selection, not really anything I did.
Now thatís what I think I try to do, is to give that back. Serving on the Enlisted Council was a great opportunity to learn about the Air Force Association as well as have the opportunity to learn about the Air Force because you really begin to learn more about how the Air Force works. Iíll forever be grateful to Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Finch and to Chief Murray because they gave me the opportunity to serve as an advisor for the next two years and continue to have that opportunity. The more you have the opportunity to learn about the enlisted force, you can share the Air Force message better and you learn that you are representative of the enlisted force.
So for the new 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, congratulations, first of all. And when you go out and you speak, you just have to remember that you were selected because of your achievements and because of what people did to get you there. When you go out to speak, youíre speaking on behalf of the enlisted force. The ideas that you generate are going to be for them. You donít take anything passionate or seriously for you, for your platform, because itís for all of the enlisted men and women. So to you, I say congratulations. And to Chief McCoy, thank you for this opportunity as well.
CMSgt (Ret) McCoy: Thank you very much, all of you. Weíll open it up for questions and answers, but Iím going to deviate a little bit from what I told you earlier.
Thereís a gentleman in the audience that we have all got to know, many of us knew him when he was on the AFA Staff. Max Keeney, would you come up here, please?
Max was a member of the staff, and many of you know, Max was responsible for the Outstanding Airmen of the Year program, and I first met Max in 1974.
I had a picture of you, and I think Susanís still got it. I donít know what the heck she did with it, but we were both a lot younger, if I recall, in the picture. But Max retired from the staff in 1997. To thank you for your outstanding support Iím pleased to present Max with an Air Force Association citation. Let me read it.
ďAwarded to Richmond A. ďMaxĒ Keeney for outstanding service to the Air Force Association. As a national staff member responsible for AFAís Outstanding Airmen of the Year program from the early 1960s until his retirement in 1997 Mr. Keeney oversaw AFAís recognition of the United States Air Forceís Outstanding Airmen. His love for the program, attention to detail, and his leadership made it one of the most prestigious Air Force awards and AFAís hosting of the group a first class event. The Air Force Association salutes Mr. Max Keeney for his superior dedication to the Outstanding Airmen program.Ē Signed Pat Condon, Chairman of the Board.
Max, my pleasure.
Thereís one more. Chuck and Mary Lucas, please come up.
They were your mom and dad when you came into the program, a lot of them. And they really had to take care of Reynolds. He was the real troublemaker. [Laughter]. But as you know, they were the hosts and we have a citation as well for Chuck and Mary Lucas.
ďAir Force Association citation awarded to Charles A. and Mary Lucas for outstanding service to the Air Force Association as volunteers donating their time to the AFA Staff and to the Air Force Outstanding Airmen program from 1968 until the late 1990s. Chuck and Mary have served as hosts for the Outstanding Airmen and have been a great asset to AFA and to the Air Force. Their love for the program and their care and attention to the award winners made the Outstanding Airman week an exciting memorial event for all. The Air Force Association salutes Chuck and Mary Lucas for their superior dedication to the United States Air Force Outstanding Airmen of the Year program.Ē Signed Steven P. Condon, Chairman of the Board.
Thank you very much.
Weíve got a few minutes, so anybody who would like to ask any of us any thoughts, any questions, what to expect of the Class of 2006, or as I said, any comments that youíd like to make about your experience, whatís happened to you since you became a member of the 12 Outstanding.
If you donít, Reynolds has threatened to do a soft shoe dance, so I want to make sure that doesnít happen.
Voice: Chief Finch has got one and I do too because he just reached over me and said Iíd like to know something, so Iím going to let him ask that.
CMSAF (Ret) McCoy: Iím in trouble with these two here in the front row. [Laughter].
Voice: One, let me say how honored I am to be with you and in your presence, but also the presence to see how many other former 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year and the new class of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year are, because as I have spoken for years and years about awards programs, while it recognizes you, the individuals, it really serves to motivate the rest of us to do even greater things. Much of my motivation as Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force came from the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the year, so to be with you, it is indeed a great honor and humbling.
I appreciate also, Chief, that you spoke of the history and briefly, and I know thereís so much more to it and it would be good to share some of that here because of capturing our enlisted history, to learn the change I 1970 that led to the 12 Outstanding Airmen versus the numbers of DRUs and FOAs and MAJCOMs.
The question I have, and basically it is one for your opinion and view, is that over time, in fact Chief McCoy, you were recognized as an Outstanding Airman of the Year as a Chief Master Sergeant. Early in the Ď60s there were several Chief Master Sergeants recognized. In time that dwindled down to the last time we recognized a Chief Master Sergeant as the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year was 1994. Since that time we have not recognized the highest enlisted grade within the 12.
I have seen and I think we all know that over time the Chiefs in their maturity and leadership wanted to recognize those coming below them because they felt like they had reached that pinnacle in their promotion. Yet again, though, I think we know we have Chiefs out there that lead in such great ways across the Air Force.
Your views or thoughts on that fact, that we have not recognized a person of the rank of Chief Master Sergeant as an Outstanding Airman of the Year since 1994.
CMSAF (Ret) McCoy: I wasnít in the job when they changed that. I think it was Chief Benniker was the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. In talking to Jim on this, he said youíve already had the recognition as the Chief Master Sergeant, and thatís true. Once you have achieved that rank, that is very very true.
I think if you look back in the history and the way John Gray portrayed it in the early Ď70s and early Ď80s, they were trying to get the people that could help them in the Air Force Association to speak for the Association. Not that our young Airmen and not that our young NCOs couldnít do that, but that was part of their rationale. Then later on they said well, maybe we ought to change that a little bit. As history has shown us, a lot of things do change. So my answer to that is I think itís a proper thing that we did in í94, and recognize as we have in this group here, there are a couple of Senior Master Sergeants and several years weíve had people promoted before they even got up here to Chief. But that speaks to why theyíre the Outstanding Airmen of the Year, as both of these two gentlemen and Maria as well. Sheís a Chief Select. It has helped them. So maybe you can look at it that way.
Okay, Brother Finch?
Voice: Thanks very much. I want to say thanks to the 12 and all of you who are here also today, to come back and help us celebrate 50 years of the 12 Outstanding Airmen. Itís a great, great program and Iím sure it has evolved over time. One of the things I recall is in 1995 we had a major discussion about how the Air Force Enlisted Council would be in terms of AFA and how that representation, Mike remembers that, how that would change and whether we should keep it a 12 OAY exclusive, or whether it ought to be inclusive of other representatives from the commands. We changed it to be an exclusive issue of the 12 Outstanding Airmen as representatives of our United States Air Force. That happened about ten years ago.
My question to you then is, although we have the excitement this week, and as all of you remember in your time, the following year is always to focus on issues. Iíd like to know what kind of issues were on the table in the United States Air Force during your watch on the part of the Enlisted Council.
CMSgt (Ret) Zimkas: As I mentioned earlier on, I thought the project that we in the Enlisted Advisory Council had during the two year period I served on that council was retention. Retention in 1978 was pretty sad, and of course we had Senior Master Sergeants down too, so you had really a cross-feed of information. Youíre one of the 12 and we had a lot of input and presented that input to the Air Force Association who in turn presented it to the Air Staff. We were very proud of that product. It was well staffed. We got out and talked to the Airmen where we were at, based on being a 12 OAY they wanted to share. So we put a good packet together. Maybe a few years later retention got better, and I hope that that input Ė and it was such a great program to take on. You had eager and motivated people who wanted to participate in that.
CMSAF (Ret) Reynolds: Chief, as you know, I was the Enlisted Council Chairman at the time when we were doing this and we had several projects we worked on. Most of them we never really did see to fruition. One was should the 12 OAY be recognized throughout their Air Force career, changing from the [inaudible] badge they have when theyíre actively the 12 to, once theyíve gone on in their career wearing maybe a silver or some other color badge to identify them versus the ribbon, something they could have on their uniform throughout the day, et cetera, like crew badges, et cetera. That one never got any steam.
We looked at designing a ring for the 12 OAY. That one didnít take a lot of steam.
Chief Benkin had us work on one of the 1st Sergeants Award and that didnít take on a lot of steam either. [Laughter].
It was just bad timing for us. What we tried to do just wasnít the right time to do it. Not that we didnít have the opportunity to present it to a lot of people, it was just simply we chose some things that needed to be addressed and looked and the decision was made that we not move forward with them. Had we not done that, weíd still be sitting here talking about should we do it or should we not do it. We looked at it, we pulsed the Air Force in general as we traveled around, and we got a good answer back, and we presented it to the Chief and the other people that no, thereís no reason for us to do those things, so that ended that right there.
Thatís not to say we didnít do anything because we worked very hard during our council meetings to get to that point and we had a lot of surveys and flyers we developed that were sent out. So we stayed busy the entire 12 months doing that. Iím sure other councils have done a lot of things that got a lot more accomplished than that.
I just want to say that Chuck and Mary quit volunteering after my year. [Laughter]. I donít know what that means.
Thanks, Chuck and Mary.
SMSgt Cornelia: Chief, during our year our biggest issue was MGIB transferability for the Montgomery GI Bill and it seemed to be a resounding issue for the enlisted force because the Air Force had opened the program up just for a few selected critical skills but not for everyone to transfer the GI Bill to their dependents. During our years and the subsequent years that I advised on the council, we focused on legislative issues and it seems that sometimes those issues, the enlisted corps arenít as close to those and it doesnít impact them as much. But when Chief Murray was in the seat he worked with Chief Eckley who was our chairperson and with AFA and the councils began to submit issues that were unique just to the Air Force. Also I think now the councils have a great opportunity to have a bigger impact on the enlisted force because itís not just issues that tend to be of a legislative nature.
CMSAF (Ret) McCoy: What year did the Airman Council start, Max? í76 somebody said. In í74 we had a council but we werenít the Outstanding Airmen of the Year werenít on it, they werenít served on it. What they used was the Command Senior Enlisted Advisors at that time. I remember I chaired the í76 and í77 Senior Enlisted Advisors Conference when I was out at SAC, but thatís how thatís evolved to this. I remember that.
Major, I see youíre one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen. Would you like to give us a little bit of thoughts on what propelled you? Isnít there a major in here thatís one of the 12? Two of you? Get both of you.
Voice: My nameís Brian Bushnell. Iím at Robbins Air Force Base, Class of 1990. I was selected as a Buck Sergeant and I think weíve talked about some of the things, the biggest thing to me was as a young Airman that really gave me a perspective that I probably wouldnít have had. It really changed how I looked at the Air Force, how I looked at being a supervisor, and obviously now how I look at being a commander. Thereís a lot of opportunity that you get exposed to and Iím very thankful for having that opportunity.
Voice: Hi, Iím Doug Chisholm. I was the Class of í76. We were the first year that you had the Enlisted Council. We were Outstanding Airmen in í76 and the first year we served in the council was í77. So that was the first year, actually, it went on.
I sort of look at it in a way that itís affected my life even as an officer. In my head, even as an officer I havenít a whole lot more except politics on how to be a leader. I think the enlisted corps has all the experience necessary to be leaders in whatever they do. At that time I was a Master Sergeant, I had my Masterís degree already in computer design, but I was enlisted. So I still had a Masterís degree. Iím still designing space systems. I retired in 2001. I was active for seven and a half years, but my total service with Reserve time was 41.5 years so I retired in 2001 because they said youíre 60 years old, time to get out. So I didnít reach my 28 years commission.
But all of those years, I look back and I still think like an Outstanding Airman. I look at things, I have a pride of the enlisted, and I understand more about the work ethic. When I deal with people I look at them with the same kind of mind that anyone should look at anyone else that has the capabilities to do a job well.
I think the year that we did our study we were worried about the professionalism of the enlisted corps. We were talking about things like, well why donít you wear your uniform when you travel? And why donít you be more involved at least in local activities if you can, represent the Air Force, be proactive because nobodyís going to ask you to do these things because thereís nothing that you can go by. Youíre going to be inventing them, so to speak. It wasnít organized, and we as a group we sort of met with them a little bit and said hey, how about this? We did this. It worked well. Wow, try that. Those kinds of things.
So you find out when you get out there and you start being yourself, being the leaders that you are because thatís why you got here, that people listen to you. They look at the leadership and they recognize it and you find out that as you go along your chest ribbons start getting bigger and bigger because youíre doing things, you become Chief, you become an officer, because you have the capability of doing those kinds of things.
So all the skills that I learned to be a lieutenant colonel were what I learned to be an Outstanding Airman. So I think itís cool.
Voice: My name is Glen Palmer. Chief, Iím back. Sorry, dude. You canít get rid of me. [Laughter].
Chief Reynolds explained to me how I became a Top 12, and that was that they raided the entire Air Force, somehow inverted the list, my name came up on top. Here I am.
What it taught me more than anything was as enlisted you can either bury your head in the sand or you can pull it out and pay attention and the enlisted can really make changes if they desire to.
Our issue in 1988 was the fact that a bunch of the breweries were going to close if the 12 didnít help do something. Thatís all I remember about my year, and I think the Chief can attest to that. [Laughter]. Thanks.
CMSAF (Ret) McCoy: Thank you all.
Anybody else want to share?
Voice: Iím retired Ken Black. Chief McCoy and the rest of the panel, youíre to be commended.
I remember in í75 one of the things that really hit me was the Media Day. We were on the patio with a young lady from the news service from Oklahoma, the Air Force News Service. She asked me a question. She says how does it feel to be one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year? It kind of hit me. There is no way that I can be one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. I made a reply to her of saying, I am a great representative of the thousands of great Airmen we have in our United States Air Force. I just happened to be selected and Iím proud of it, but thereís a lot of people out there just as good as me, so donít forget them either. That was my whole thing.
Voice: My name is Ike White, and I think Iím the individual that Jim was referring to, Class of í74.
This is the third time Iíve been with Jim, no fourth. The first time he was my instructor at the NCO Academy at Barksdale Air Force Base back in 1962 or Ď63, something like that. At that time Jim impressed me. His stature, the way he walked, the way he talked, and mainly the way he kept his shoes shined. I never could put that spit shine on them.
Anyway, the next time I met Jim was at the 1974 Outstanding Airmen banquet, award and everything else. Celebration. That was a class, really. We did have three Chiefs, but we had one at the time they called it Airman First Class, Pam Brown from the Alaskan Command. She kept the three Chiefs in check.
The next time was at his turning over the reins as President of the Air Force Association in 1994. I was invited back to be here for the 20th year. Now this celebration.
To the Class of 2006, you do have a busy schedule, but in this schedule please have someone among you thatís pretty good at media work, camera work. In our trip to the White House on our departure we were walking down the long driveway, grass glistening from the dew that was on the grass, sunshine hitting it. I had the camera and I proceeded down to the gate. I wanted to catch the Airmen and their wives as they were walking down. I had a 35mm camera, I took 35 shots. We went to get on the bus, and I looked and I had the lens cover still on. [Laughter]. Thatís why you guys didnít get the picture.
CMSAF (Ret) McCoy: Thank you, Ike. Kathy were you listening to those first comments that he said about me? [Laughter].
Anybody else? How about some active duty folks that are in here?
Those of you that havenít received, and you notice Chief Reynolds and Sergeant Cornelia have a little tag on the bottom of theirs that says ďFormer Outstanding Airman.Ē See Susan afterwards, she has a ribbon for you, for any of the formers. Also she has some other things as well.
But again, let me say thank you for coming. Thank you for your support of this program. And again, thanks to the Air Force Association, Pat and the rest of the staff and the entire Association for continuing this great, great program. I look forward to the next whatever it is that weíll have in this program that we keep coming back for. So thank you for coming, and you 12, today youíve got to get ready for a big night. Youíll enjoy it.
God bless you, and thank you.
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