For successful Airman to emulate, look no farther than Chief Sanders

  • Published
  • By Col. Greg Touhill
  • 81st Training Wing commander
Today marks the end of a long and distinguished career in the service of our great nation as Chief Master Sergeant Errol "Sandy" Sanders retires after 30 years of faithful and devoted service. 

The world is a lot different in those 30 plus years since young Sandy Sanders raised his hand and joined our great Air Force. The great threat faced by Airman Sanders' Air Force was the Soviet Union. For many years, the armed forces of the United States and Soviet Union stood ready to defend their countries in a tense "Cold War." Men like Airman Sanders maintained the peace by standing the watch, guarding our ever-ready alert force both in the United States at Strategic Air Command bases as well as in forward deployed locations such as those found in Europe at the time. 

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new threat emerged and Sergeant Sanders and his fellow Airmen transitioned from a forward-deployed, garrison force to an expeditionary force that defeated Saddam Hussein's forces in Operation Desert Storm and maintained the peace in Operations Northern and Southern Watch. 

Later, Master Sgt. Sanders and his fellow Airmen stood the watch as allied forces thwarted the genocide in the Balkans. And now, Chief Sanders, back from a year in the desert in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, stands the watch one last time at Keesler. 

Indeed, the world has changed quite a bit since Airman Sanders entered the Air Force, yet so has the man we know as "The Chief." A proud husband and father, opportunities didn't always fall into his lap; he made his opportunities. He worked hard and excelled at his duties. He took advantage of his professional military education and applied it to being a better non-commissioned officer and was rewarded with more challenging and responsible positions. He seized the opportunity to further his education and earned an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, and a master's degree. If you are a young airman looking for a prescription for success, look no farther than Chief Sandy Sanders. 

Like many of us who have served most of our adult life in uniform, Chief Sanders is not particularly anxious to retire from active duty; he's told me many times he'd sign up for another hitch if the Air Force would let him yet, as he says, it is time to let the next generation take the reins. Sandy Sanders spent 30 years defending all of us. As he and Victoria start their next journey together, please join me in saying thank you and wish them all the best.