Chiefs recognized at Keesler

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Four Keesler members were honored Feb. 28 at the Bay Breeze Event Center for attaining the rank of chief master sergeant.

Honorees were:

Senior Master Sgt. Susan Andersen, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron Pathology and Clinical Laboratory superintendent. She is responsible for leading 95 staff members and executing a 6 million dollar operational budget, as well as, over 2 million dollars in contracts. Andersen oversees 585,000 clinical laboratory results, 10,000 pathology cases and safeguards $1.6 million blood units and components annually.

Chief Master Sergeant Jason Devereaux, 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron superintendent. His squadron consists of seven flights with more than 80 active duty, civilians, and contracting personnel. He advises the squadron commander on the daily operations and on the welfare, training, and professional development and utilization of more than 70 enlisted personnel. 

Senior Master Sgt. Derek Fromenthal, 81st Training Support Squadron superintendent of the qualification and training flight. He leads a team of 70 military and civilian curriculum developers in managing more than 225 Air Force job qualification standards, qualification training packages, and career field education and training plans affecting over 39,000 cyber Airmen across 11 Air Force Specialties. Shortly after his promotion to Chief Master Sergeant, he was selected to fill a temporary manning shortage in the 338th Training Squadron as superintendent. 

Senior Master Sgt. Richard Parsons is the superintendent of Detachment 6, 366th Training Squadron, Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi. He is the senior Air Force enlisted leader on the U.S. Navy Seabees Atlantic Division installation. Parsons manages Civil Engineer Structures technical school operational matters and coordinates support from the Navy host and Army detachment leaders.

The Chiefs Recognition Ceremony is held yearly to introduce new members of the highest enlisted rank and celebrate Air Force heritage.

"All new chiefs are honored each year in February or March," said Chief Master Sgt. Roderick Cunningham, Air Force Reserve Command liaison. "Once the ceremony is over, it's all about taking care of the Airmen."

The evening began with a private medallion ceremony hosted by the 81st Training Wing vice commander, Col Rene Romero, for the new chiefs and their families.

"Presenting the medallions gives the base commander personal time with the members who are being recognized," said Cunningham.

Once the honorees are introduced, the rest of the event is dedicated to the tradition of what makes a great chief master sergeant.

It continued with a candle-lighting ceremony that represented the nine enlisted grades from airman basic up to chief master sergeant. The final candle was lit by Chief Master Sgt. (ret) J.J. Vollmuth, the former senior enlisted advisor of the Keesler Technical Training Center.

Following the candle-lighting ceremony, Chief Master Sgt. Farrell Thomas, 81st TRW command chief, read the Chief's Charge for the honorees. Guest speakers and seasoned chiefs led the events.

"It feels awesome, but I'm very humbled in wearing this rank," said Devereaux. "I know a lot of great chiefs and have known a lot of great chiefs from the past. It is very honorable to be wearing the same rank, but a little overwhelming and scary at the same time, knowing I need to fill their shoes.

"The ceremony was incredible. They did an outstanding job in bringing the tradition of the stripe alive and showing the importance of being a chief. It really made me feel special and my family was awestruck."

The honorees agree that the experience is humbling, and after the ceremony ended, they were ready to focus on Airmen.

"The advice I would give aspiring Airmen would be to do your job well every day and always be conscious of the bigger picture," said Andersen. "Surround yourself with positive energy, take care of people as if they were your own family and trust in your ability to accomplish great things.

"The Air Force gives people great opportunities and it may seem overwhelming at times. Just remember to breathe, take one day at a time and do your best."
The chiefs thanked both previous supervisors and the Airmen that have worked for them over the years. Without the hard work and accomplishments of a team, none of them would be where they are now, said Devereaux.

Some chiefs leave Keesler once the make the rank, said Cunningham, but whether they stay or not, the newest chief master sergeants will take what they've learned and give it back to the lower-ranking enlisted members of the Air Force.

"My job has always been to take care of the people who get the mission done," said Andersen. "The ceremony definitely reemphasized that fact to me. It is extremely important to give back. Now is not the time to sit back and relax -- it's the time to help others become better Airman."