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274th ASOS Chief Gaulke retires but stays close

New York Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Brian Gaulke (right) receives a Certificate of Retirement from Maj. Patrick Cox, Commander 274th Air Support Operation Squadron, during a 2 February 2013 retirement ceremony held at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, NY. Chief Gaulke also received a Meritorious Service Medal during the ceremony. Chief Gaulke was one of the first members of the 274th ASOS after it stood up at Hancock Field. (NY Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Duane Morgan/Released)

New York Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Brian Gaulke (right) receives a Certificate of Retirement from Maj. Patrick Cox, Commander 274th Air Support Operation Squadron, during a 2 February 2013 retirement ceremony held at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, NY. Chief Gaulke also received a Meritorious Service Medal during the ceremony. Chief Gaulke was one of the first members of the 274th ASOS after it stood up at Hancock Field. (NY Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Duane Morgan/Released)

Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, NY -- The 274th Air Support Operations Squadron said farewell to Chief Master Sgt. Brian Gaulke during a retirement ceremony held here on February 2, 2013. Gaulke was joined by family and friends as he celebrated over 24 years of service in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard.

Gaulke joined the active duty Air Force in 1988, one year after graduating high school and was first stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, where he worked as a base supply troop. In 1992 he cross trained to become a Joint Terminal Attack Controller.

Immediately after cross training he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas for four years. Then in 1996 he left Fort Riley for Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Florida. At Hurlburt Field he would become a training instructor.

On September 30, 2000, he would leave Hurlburt Field and become a member of the 274th ASOS on October 1, 2000.

"It was a brand new squadron," said Gaulke. "It was once the 274th Combat Communication Squadron in Long Island, New York. No one from the Combat Communications Squadron came to Syracuse and it was re-designated to the 274th ASOS."

Gaulke rose through ranks and made Chief Master Sergeant which he says was the rank that meant the most to him. "It was very important because it's the top of the mountain and it was always a personal goal that I had," said Gaulke. "As a chief I knew I could better help my squadron members."

Gaulke has been on deployments in 2003 and 2009. In 2003 he deployed to Qatar and worked in the Combined Air Operation Center. In 2009 he deployed to Basrah in support of the 34th Infantry Division. That same year he deployed with the 124th ASOS and filled in for a Chief Master Sergeant who was medically unable to deploy.

After over 24 years of service, Gaulke doesn't plan on relaxing. He now works for Rally Point management, a company that provides close air support expertise for the 124th Field Training Unit here.

When asked what would stick with him the most from his time in the military, Gaulke said it would be friendships. "Having the camaraderie, friendships and working with guys who love doing their job is something I'll take with me," said Gaulke.

He'll get to keep a lot of those friendships because he won't be going too far away. "My office will be on the other side of the 274th building," said Gaulke. "If they ever need anything, they know they can just come over and ask."

The message he wanted to leave to airmen and future airmen is "Your career is in your own hands. You have to make sure you're doing what you need to succeed. Make sure you're giving 100%."

Gaulke said joining the Air Guard opened his eyes to a whole different life and he feels the 174th welcomed the 274th as a unit.

"They always made sure the guys who were the leading edge of the spear were prepared to go to combat and that they had all the equipment and services required from the base," said Gaulke. "We definitely feel like Hancock Field took care of us."

"I would like to thank all the organizations on the base that made my job easier and assisted us throughout the process of starting up a squadron, sending guys down range and getting them back home safely due to the tireless hours they spent for us," said Gaulke. "I feel like Hancock Field truly was our second family and I want to thank them for everything they do for the 274th ASOS."