U.S. Air Forces in Europe command chief master sergeant retires

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Corey Clements
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affiairs
After more than 30 years of successful service, USAFE Command Chief Master Sergeant Gary G. Coleman was honored Nov. 16 during a retirement ceremony officiated by Gen William T. Hobbins, commander of USAFE. Chief Coleman will bid farewell to the U.S. Air Force effective May 1, 2008.

Special guests Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley, the eighth Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Sam Parrish and a few hundred other guests attended as Gen. Hobbins reflected on Chief Coleman's three decades of military service.

"He's always looking out for his people--always" said Gen. Hobbins of Chief Coleman. "I see this everyday. He's in my office every morning talking to me and he always has the best interests of our Airmen in mind.

The general highlighted the numerous accolades the chief had achieved and the experiences they've shared, like rewarding individuals with "stripes for exceptional performance," commonly referred to as STEP promotions. Together, they visited Airmen across the command as well as downrange, always looking for things that needed to be done to make Airmen's jobs and lives easier.

"Words don't adequately describe the kind of care and commitment, improvement efforts, the acceptance of responsibility, dedication and honor he portrays," said Gen. Hobbins.

Chief Coleman was presented the Legion of Merit medal, a certificate of appreciation from the President of the United States, along with his retirement orders and a host of appreciation letters and certificates from top Air Force officials. His wife, Harriet, was also honored with a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Air Force.

Chief Coleman had the opportunity to reflect on his career and joke about his experiences as a young Airman as the audience oftentimes roared with laughter. Looking back, he sees that the Air Force is better than it used to be and attributes that to the enlisted men and women serving today.

"Back in those days our enlisted force was nowhere near where it is today...," said Chief Coleman. "We've come a long way...our enlisted men and women are the brightest that this Air Force has ever seen. I find solace and strength in knowing that you all will replace me and take this great Air Force to the next level."

Chief Coleman, who has a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership and administration, began his Air Force career in 1977 as a dental technician. Since then he's held 12 positions in professional military education, first sergeant, and command chief master sergeant duties ending with his present job as the top enlisted advisor to the commander of USAFE.

The ceremony was held at the Kisling Non-Commissioned Officer Academy auditorium on Kapaun Air Station, Germany, a place reminiscent of the career of this pioneer of professional military education transformation.

"This Air Force is in the midst of some challenging times," Chief said to the students of the NCO Academy and the Airman Leadership School in the audience. "I can't remember when the need, the demand for leadership at the NCO level has ever been greater than it is today."

"But I know that you're going be there, you're going perform, you're going to produce, and you will continue to defend this, the greatest nation in the history of the world. And you're going to do it in stereo."

Some of Chief Coleman's notable achievements were the creation of the Airman Leadership School concept and the standardization of the NCO Academy curriculum outline for the entire Air Force. He set unprecedented foundations for the development of our Airmen nearly two decades ago. That legacy remains today and will continue for decades to come.

Continuing in that foundational legacy, most recently, Chief Coleman designed the first-of-its-kind enlisted heritage hall for the command. The room showcases USAFE's enlisted historical imagery, narratives, artifacts, uniforms, and other displays, and also functions as a mini theater and ceremony venue.

He was the driving force behind an annual $9M quality of life program for 48,000 men and women in the command, the development of international enlisted education training programs for European and African allies, and a myriad of other accomplishments.

"When I think of Chief Coleman and his wife, Harriet, I think of them as national treasures," said Gen. Hobbins. "We're absolutely grateful for your service of 30 years of dedication to our Airmen."