Retired Gen. Tod D. Wolters: a leader among leaders

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jenna Bond
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force retired Gen. Tod D. Wolters, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe and U.S. European Command commander, was inducted into the Order of the Sword at Centro di Catalogazione dei Magredi in San Quirino, Italy, April 9, 2024.

The Order of the Sword recognizes leaders who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps. It is the highest honor and tribute noncommissioned officers can bestow upon an individual.
“It's difficult to put into words just how thankful I am and I'm at a loss for words because it's rare in one’s life that you have the opportunity to serve with a group of people who you adore, as much as you respect,” said Wolters. “You all carry the sword for good order and discipline and you're members of the most lethal Air Force in the history of humanity.”
Wolters empowered the enlisted corps to make decisions and drive change.

He served for 40 plus years with distinction at every level from squadron to combatant command.

The ceremony included a reading and presentation of the Order of the Sword proclamation, a ceremonial scroll signed by the attendees attesting to Wolters’ service and leadership and the bestowal of a personal sword.

The proclamation highlighted Wolters’ influential leadership, approachability and commitment to the enlisted corps. “General Wolters is the most humble, approachable, credible leader I’ve ever had the opportunity to serve with. No single leader has done more to bolster the importance of our NCO Corps or the enlisted development across our allies and partner nations more,” said Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kwiatkowski, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa command chief. “General Wolters embodies all the ideals of the Order of the Sword: truth, justice and power rightfully used.”

The Order of the Sword tradition originated in the early 12th century. Medieval noncommissioned officers would honor leaders and pledge loyalty by presenting them with a ceremonial sword. The sword symbolized truth, justice and righteous power. It served as a visual representation that the individual was a “leader among leaders.”

To learn more about the history of the Order of the Sword honor, visit