by Master Sgt. Ray Bowden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Airmen attending the Forrest L. Vosler Noncommissioned Officer’s Academy received a pre-holiday treat when the fifth chief master sergeant of the Air Force visited the professional military education campus here Dec. 11.
Chief Master Sgt. Robert Gaylor, 79, spoke to the approximately 130 students and NCOA staff and gave what he called the “Gaylor Spin” on a variety of topics, including a humorous monologue on “how to make chief.”
“People always ask me ‘How can I make chief,’” he said to the NCOA students. “I ask: ‘What rank are you now?’ They reply: ‘Staff sergeant.’ So I say: ‘Make tech.’ As far as I know, there has never been a way to go straight from technical sergeant to chief,” Chief Gaylor said. “It’s not as if our promotions are controlled by outer space – they’re controlled by you.”
According to Chief Gaylor, attaining the Air Force’s highest enlisted rank is a process that relies on a variety of crucial factors that include taking advantages of the opportunities the Air Force presents.
“Take the initiative and look for those challenging opportunities that come your way long before you can even be considered for chief,” Chief Gaylor said. “I’m not some special guy – I came in for a three-year term and stayed for 31 (years) because of the opportunities the Air Force presented me.”
Chief Gaylor said opportunities abound for technical sergeants.
“You’re at a very important point in your career – you hold all the expertise. You are the expert and masters of your profession,” he said. “You are at the time in your career where you’ve probably made a commitment to stay in and if you look around, you will see a lot of opportunities for you if you have the motivation to take advantage of them.”
Sometimes Airmen may not even know an opportunity for what it is until years down the road, the chief said.
“Sometimes you have to go out on a limb just to see if someone will saw it off,” he said.
Chief Gaylor stressed the importance of professional military education saying that he did not experience PME during his career until he was a senior master sergeant.
“I had no formal training – I was leading by the seat of my pants. When I finally got to PME, the lights went off in my head. It was a rewarding experience. PME launched my career.
“You’ve made a commitment to a great way of life,” he said.
During his two-day visit to the wing, Chief Gaylor also toured the 21st Operations Group and 21st Medical Group facilities and attended Chief Master Sgt. Tim Omdal’s retirement dinner and retirement ceremony.