152nd AOG welcomes newest Chief
By Capt. Amy Hansen, 152 AOG/PA
/ Published July 23, 2008
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The 152nd Air Operations Group welcomed its newest Chief Master Sergeant in a promotion ceremony July 12 at Hancock Field.
Chief Master Sgt. John "Jack" Baxter earned his E-9 stripes after 23 years serving with the New York Air National Guard, 13 years as a civilian, and 4 years of Air Force active duty. He began with the Guard in 1985 as a communications specialist in the 108th Tactical Control Squadron, and transitioned to the 152nd AOG in 1994 when the 108th TCS was deactivated. He is currently the Communications Maintenance branch chief, but will assume the position of Communications superintendent later this summer.
Chief Baxter's daughters, Jennifer Baxter and Kristen Clark, tacked on his new rank during Saturday's ceremony in front of a room full of his family members and drilling unit members. The ceremony was presided over by Col. Kevin Brown, 152nd AOG commander, and narrated by Maj. Cathie Sundet, 152nd Readiness and Support deputy director.
Col. Kevin Bradley, the 174th Fighter Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. Dave Heckman, 174th FW command chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Hardy Pierce, the New York State command chief for the New York Air National Guard, were also on hand for the ceremony.
Chief Master Sergeant is the highest enlisted grade in the service, other than Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. According to Chief Heckman, who presented the Chief's coin to Chief Baxter, only the top one percent of the entire enlisted force attains the rank. Those who do are considered mentors to the enlisted force, as well as advisors to commanders on enlisted issues.
"It's kind of like the brass ring. This is the pinnacle for an enlisted person; you can't get any higher than that. It's a responsibility; it's an honor; it's humbling, really," said Chief Master Sgt. Jennie Miller, 152nd Intelligence superintendant, and reader of the Chief's Creed at the ceremony.
Regarding his selection and promotion for E-9, Chief Baxter said, "It was unexpected. I had hoped for it, but I never expected to achieve it. When I originally came into the Guard, I was hoping to make Master Sergeant before I retired."
Colonel Brown presented Chief Baxter with a "Chief's mug" at the end of the ceremony to commemorate his promotion. "Chief Baxter is a man of few words, but what he does is integral to this unit. He's a quiet leader," he said.
Chief Baxter's advice to younger troops who want to earn E-9 some day is simple. "Keep up with your professional military education. Take any schools they offer you. Pay attention."
Other friends and family members in attendance Saturday were Linda and Edd Barnes; Joyce and Art Wisner; Brian and Renee Baxter; Myia Colon (10); Steve and Bonnie Baxter; Kathy Sutton; Cynthia Baxter; and Chief Baxter's granddaughter, Breanna Clark (7). After the promotion ceremony, the guests joined the 152nd AOG in a picnic hosted by the unit's Family Readiness Group.