By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The chief master sergeant sat in her office and sipped coffee on this cold January day. She spoke with a gentle tone that gave no indication of her experience as a basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
Chief Master Sgt. Andrea Gates, the 314th Airlift Wing’s newest command chief, is proud of her selection as the wing’s senior enlisted leader and the training experience she brings to the table.
“I’ve always liked to teach,” Gates said. “Even when I stopped being an instructor, I always liked to teach at the First Term Airman Center and other places because I like giving information back and mentoring.”
Gates said being an MTI was probably her most favorite job since it gave her the opportunity to mentor Airmen at the beginning of their careers.
“I loved being an MTI,” the command chiefsaid. “I liked being in that position of molding fresh, eager young people that you have the chance to influence and start them off on the right foot in their career.”
As the 314th AW command chief, Gates is responsible for the morale, welfare, professional development and combat readiness of the wing’s 900 Airmen and 1,800 aircrew students. The wing’s mission is to train C-130 aircrew members from across the Department of Defense, Coast Guard and 44 allied nations, but Gates charges all Airmen with being mentors.
“I feel that everybody in the Air Force is a teacher,” she said. “It’s all about passing on knowledge whether you got it from a book, a classroom or just from experience. If you’ve learned a lesson or picked up information along the way, and somebody else doesn’t have it, you need to pass that on.”
Gates is eager to get out and meet the men and women of Team Little Rock. She believes in using her position to help Airmen to the best of her ability.
“To become a chief is to be in the best possible position to help Airmen,” said Gates. “I just want to do everything I can to help and be in the best position to help everybody without forgetting where I came from or how I got here because it was certainly numerous Airmen throughout my career who gave me the tool kit to be here today.”
The command chief is excited to partner with her old friend, Chief Master Sgt. Margarita Overton, 19th Airlift Wing command chief, in training Little Rock Airmen.
“Anywhere you go nowadays it’s all about partnerships,” said Gates. “You find more and more bases with wings working together. Everybody brings something different to the fight.
“Ultimately, the end result is getting Airmen trained to the best of our ability. It’s a total force effort,” she added.