By Scott Prater
Team Schriever inducted 29 Airmen into its non-commissioned officer ranks Nov. 13. As hundreds looked on, each Airman accepted their recognition, posed for a commemorative photo along with Col. Wayne Monteith, Commander 50th Space Wing, and soaked in the admiration of their peers.
The induction ceremony marked a significant milestone in their Air Force careers, one that carries an entirely new level of expectation.
Chief Master Sergeant Todd Small, Command Chief, Air Force Space Command, delivered a keynote address in which he explained the importance of the service’s NCOs to the Air Force of the present and of the future.
He congratulated Schriever’s newest NCOs on their achievements, but also issued a challenge.
“The Air Force needs you to accept a new level of responsibility, that of mentoring and leading the next generation of Airmen,” he said. “I believe that within the United States Air Force, no single group of men and women are more important to the training and development of our Airmen and to our mission success than our non-commissioned officers. Your leadership, and the way in which you lead, will cascade across generations of Airmen, impacting those that serve today and influencing the way in which they lead the Airmen of the future.”
He explained that it’s easy to view the Air Force as a collection of jet fighters, supersonic missiles and orbiting satellites, but that the real Air Force consists of people and the actions they take.
“As non-commissioned officers we are willing to entrust you with our most valuable resource — our people,” Chief Small said. “People are the heart and soul of our Air Force, and our success as the most lethal, respected, war-fighting force ever known rests squarely on the shoulders of our people.”
Senior Airman Christine Nagle, 50th Security Forces Squadron, paid close attention as she stood among her fellow inductees.
She’ll sew on her fourth stripe in February, and has been performing a role normally reserved for NCOs for the past six months, that of an evaluator.
The Johnstown, Pa. native enlisted shortly after high school and headed straight for the Security Forces career field.
“I looked at all of the job listings and thought it would be cool to be a police officer,” she said.
Schriever was her first duty station, and aside from two deployments, she has spent her entire career here. After four years as a junior enlisted Airman, she’s looking forward to the new challenge.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Airman Nagle said. “For the first time, you’re not there only to look out for yourself. You have subordinates and your main focus is on them and the mission. You have to make quick decisions and you’re expected to know more. As an NCO you not only have to provide answers for people who outrank you, you also have Airmen coming to you with questions. If you don’t have the answers you need to be able to find the answers. So you’re held to a higher standard. The Air Force needs good NCOs who are willing to provide their knowledge and lead other people to ensure the mission is accomplished.”
Colonel Monteith concluded the event by speaking about the importance of NCOs and their leadership at the wing level.
“Our Air Force did not get where it is today because people woke up one day being able to lead,” he said. “Our Air Force needs you to read about leadership, watch leaders, learn from them, and most importantly, practice leadership. As an NCO, people are watching you. If you cut corners, your folks will cut corners. And we can’t have that. Not a single one of you joined our Air Force in a time of conflict, raised their right hand and said ‘please let me be average.’“
He congratulated inductees on their performances thus far, and challenged them to make a habit of performing as leaders.
“You wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t make a difference already,” he said. “I’m going to ask you to continue to make a difference. When you get back to your workplaces, my expectation is that you mentor, motivate and inspire every day.”