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Words of wisdom from CMSAF (ret.) Paul W. Airey

by Senior Airman Andrea Thacker
Thunderbolt staff writer

MacDill recently had the pleasure of hosting the first chief master sergeant of the Air Force when he was here for MacDIll's Senior Noncommisioned Officer Symposium and induction ceremony. I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit down and talk with the vibrant 81-year-old who, even 24 years after retirement, still makes it his top priority to visit and talk with the enlisted blue-suiters.

How many times have you visited MacDill?
Oh, I'd say about 10 or 12 times.

What are the biggest changes you've seen since your previous visits?
I was absolutely amazed at the look of the base when I came through the gate. There have been a lot of improvements - the new facilities make the look great.

How does it feel to know you were the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force?
It's an awesome responsibility being the first chief master sergeant of the Air Force. Foremost I know I can't fail because the effect it could have on the enlisted force. Even to this day I keep that in mind.

What advice do you have for today's Airmen?
Two four letter words: zeal - be the best you can be, and duty - do everything to the best of your ability. Follow those two things and you can't go wrong.

...Senior Airmen transitioning to NCOs?
Know your job and be people oriented. As a leader or supervisor, if your troops are any kind of problem you need to be willing and able to take any problem on as if it were your own.

...NCOs who are transitioning to the senior tier?
Senior NCOs of today have to be great leaders and extremely people oriented. If you're a good SNCO, every person and mission should be your personal desire.

When you talk about enlisted concerns, what are you hearing from the field?
I don't hear many lately. Since I've been at MacDill, I didn't hear a single gripe or complaint. Everyone seems happy.

I realize that the Air Force is continuously changing and deployments must continue, but what advice do you have for the Airman who are deploying more often and for longer periods of time?
That's their duty as Airmen. That's why they joined or came in. It boils down to plain duty. That's what you're paid for.

How can leadership educate the force about benefits?
It's the duty of every leader or supervisor to inform themselves about the benefits so they can relay the best information to their troops. Not only the benefits but they need to guide them when they need advice.

As a former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, what do you think is your most important job?
I hate to pin it down to just one but I'd have to say, my most important job as a former CMSAF would have to be meeting and talking to the troops.




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