139th News

Dec. 1 anniversary of Chief Master Sgt. rank

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Bill Thomas
  • Missouri Air National Guard
The Air Force of 1947 found itself in a precarious situation. An explosion of technology following World War II and Korea created a need for enlisted men with leadership and technical ability far above that normally expected of a Master Sergeant. By the 1950s, the Air Force had 58,000 Master Sergeants, which was the highest rank at the time.

In 1958, after deciding rank stagnation in the Air Force was hurting the enlisted corps, congress passed the Career Compensation Act, which allowed Air Force officials to create two new ranks, Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant. It decreed that 1% of the enlisted force could be in pay grade E-9 and 2% in pay grade E-8.

It was December 1, 1959 when 625 enlisted personnel were initially promoted to Chief Master Sergeant. They would become known as the "Charter Chiefs". The challenges that were overcome by this initial group and the Chiefs that followed set impeccable standards that are still held true by Chiefs today. We do not manage through fear or intimidation, but by knowledge, training and leadership ability; always ready to mentor, teach and coach. The culmination of adding the super grades to our enlisted heritage can be read in AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, better known as the "Little Brown Book". Embrace your enlisted career, live by the words in those pages, the Air Force Core Values, and the ethos of the Airman's Creed.

As we celebrate 50 years of the Chief Master Sergeant, the Chiefs of the 139th Airlift Wing challenge each and every one of you to complete your Professional Military Education, continue your civilian education, know your job, and be prepared for the next step in your career. Take care of yourself, your family and your Wingman. Lastly, aspire to be the one writing the 60th anniversary article in 2019.