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Maintenance Airman promotes to chief master sergeant

promotion photo

Chief Master Sgt. Kelly Kunkel, 139th Maintenance Operations Flight superintendent, receives new chevron ranks from his family during a promotion ceremony at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Dec. 6, 2020. Kunkel has been serving at the 139th Airlift Wing since 1991. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrew Rivera)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. --

“It was a team effort with everyone in maintenance,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kelly Kunkel, 139th Maintenance Operations Flight superintendent. “Without their support, without their teamwork and comradery, it wouldn't have happened. I give a lot of credit to them and I give a lot of credit to my family for supporting me through the tough times as well as the good.”

Kunkel was promoted to chief master sergeant during December drill.

Following his father’s footsteps of serving in the Air National Guard, Kunkel has served in the Missouri Air National Guard since September of 1991.

As the maintenance group’s mission is to provide worldwide cargo airlift, Kunkel has deployed all over the world to places such as the Middle East, Africa, South America, Central America, the Pacific and Europe.

Kunkel said he enjoys traveling the world and helping others whether it be a combat mission or humanitarian relief.

“Every deployment that I have been on has been a good one, not so much because of where I had been at, but because of the people that I was deployed with,” said Kunkel. “I’ve had some memorable trips but the men and the women of the 139th can take the most uninhabitable place and make it a great deployment.”

In his new role as chief, Kunkel said that despite one’s circumstances, a positive mindset and being resilient are impactful for Airmen.

“It is a great honor,” said Kunkel. “I never knew if I would actually get it or not, but I won’t wear my stripes lightly, that’s for sure.”