By Brig. Gen. Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr.
19th Airlift Wing commander
It’s another great week for Team Little Rock. On Wednesday, we received word that six senior master sergeants on base will be promoted to the highest enlisted rank. To Chief Master Sgt. Select Fred Graves, 314th Operations Group; Greg Kollbaum, 53rd Airlift Squadron; Valeria Richardson, 19th Medical Operations Squadron; John Spillane, 29th Weapons Squadron; Timothy Standish, 19th Security Forces Squadron; and Michael Edwards, 19th Mission Support Squadron, congratulations! This is a direct testament to your hard work throughout your career. This promotion means you are being recognized for your unique talents and the personal characteristics required to lead Air Force people and programs.
When Congress established the rank of chief master sergeant in 1958, they set a ceiling of 1 percent for promotion. There are currently less than 3,000 chief master sergeants serving in the Air Force. This year, only 520 eligible E-8s were selected for promotion. I encourage all of you to congratulate the six selectees on base for their success in this great accomplishment.
I will be calling on these newest promotees and all members of the 19th Airlift Wing to buckle down in the week ahead. We are heading into our first ever ROCKEX as members of Air Mobility Command. How we exercise our capabilities has changed, but how we conduct business has not. This ROCKEX is an opportunity for us to showcase once again what I know you’re all capable of – fly, fight and win Combat Airlift-style.
A lot of hard work and planning has already gone into making this ROCKEX a success. I ask that you do the job you were trained to do in the safe, efficient way you were trained to do it. Now is not the time to “make it pretty” to impress evaluators. This is an opportunity for us to get it right. This exercise comes on the heels of an operational readiness inspection in which we excelled. We should take the lessons learned from that exercise and apply them now.
Your senior leaders and I have asked a lot of you in 2008 – the ORI, the host base transfer, 4-star visits, real world deployments and this ROCKEX – and you have demonstrated time and again that we have what it takes to succeed. Every time we exercise, we’re developing ways to take Combat Airlift to the next level. The warfighters on the ground in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and the newly-formed Africa Command count on us to provide them with the most professional and proficient Combat Airlift on the planet. Getting it right here allows us to get it right out there.
Thank you again for your dedication and enthusiasm. I am motivated by your service and proud to serve with you every day.