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Chief Jeep an Air Force tradition

by 2nd Lt. Erin Dorrance
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Photo by 2nd Lt. Erin Dorrance
Chief Master Sgt. Owen Wills, MacDill's newest chief, keeps the Chief Jeep right by his side at all times, well, almost.

Little boys pick out their favorite matchbox car at the toy store and carry it in their pockets, taking it out anytime there is a tile floor to see how fast and far they could send the mini hot rod.

New chief master sergeants in the Air Force also can be seen carrying around a toy jeep; but these chiefs do everything in their power to keep this toy close to them and wouldn't dream of sending it out of reach down a tile floor.

Several bases participate in the old Air Force tradition of the Chief Jeep. The newest chief on base carries the Chief Jeep with him everywhere he goes while in uniform. If the jeep is captured away from the new chief, he can make a deal with that person to keep the jeep from other chiefs. If, however, the jeep ends up in another chief's hands, the new chief has to buy a round of drinks for all chiefs present.

New chiefs receive the Chief Jeep at their promotion ceremony, along with a list of rules and an Air Force Form 1800 - Operator Inspection Guide and Trouble Report. The new chief must inspect the jeep and sign the form once a week to ensure the jeep is safe and in working condition.

Chief Master Sgt. Owen Wills, 6th Maintenance Group superintendent, is the newest chief master sergeant at the 6th Air Mobility Wing.

"I have had the Chief Jeep since May 1," said Chief Wills. "I think it is a great tradition. You have finally made it to the top, yet it is a humbling experience to remind you that you are still a new chief." In the past month and a half, Chief Wills has lost the jeep once.

"I was in a staff meeting and I put the jeep under my feet," said Chief Wills. I couldn't see it because I was sitting at a conference table, but I had my feet on the jeep. It got kicked around and was shuffled out of the room while I was distracted."

After the jeep was turned over to the MacDill's Chief Group, Chief Wills did not receive it back until the round of drinks was delivered to the deserving culprits.

Every chief that acquires the Chief Jeep adds a little something from their squadron to the jeep. Chief Wills posted a 6th Maintenance Group sticker on the hood of the jeep to represent his squadron.

"When it comes to guarding the jeep, most people think that the most feared captors would be fellow chiefs," said Chief Wills. "My biggest fear is lieutenants who conspire to steal the Jeep."

The Chief Jeep will remain close to Chief Wills until the next senior master sergeant pins on chief and relieves him of the jeep.

 

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