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Air Force's enlisted leader visits Keesler

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez
  • Keesler Public Affairs
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney McKinley toured Keesler Air Force Base July 16 through 18 for his first official visit to the base since assuming the top enlisted leader position in June 2006. 

Principal activities during his visit included meeting with many of the various training squadrons' students and instructors and visiting the Keesler Medical Center, and 2nd Air Force headquarters. He was also the guest speaker at Keesler's senior noncommissioned officer induction ceremony July 17. 

"This is the first time I've been back to Keesler since Hurricane Katrina," said Chief McKinley. "I have to applaud all of the Airmen, civilians and members of the local community for everything they've done to rebuild the base and the surrounding area." 

Chief McKinley met and spoke with people from across the 81st Training Group during his visit, including combat controllers from the 334th Training Squadron and members of the 338th TRS' air expeditionary force training center. 

He also oversaw a mass recitation of the Airman's Creed by the non-prior service students at Keesler's student Triangle area.

During an enlisted call to nearly 1,000 Keesler personnel, Chief McKinley spoke about some of the challenges the Air Force faces in the coming year. 

"We (the Air Force) were scheduled to down size to 316,300 personnel this year, but are now going to remain at 330,000," said Chief McKinley. "We now have to make sure we put these extra enlisted members where they need to be. 

"We also have to make sure we maintain our high quality of life and professional military education standards," he added. "We are going to make sure we meet all of these challenges." Chief McKinley's visit to 2nd Air Force included an in-lieu-of briefing. Air Force ILO training falls within 2nd Air Force's area of responsibility. 

"It's our job to perform these (ILO) missions the best we can, and we're doing a fantastic job," said Chief McKinley. "I don't even call them ILO missions -- I call them Air Force missions. We're not doing ILOs for other services -- we're doing them for the United States of America," he added. 

Chief McKinley also spoke about some personal highlights during his first two years as chief master sergeant of the Air Force. 

"The number one highlight was on Oct. 14, 2006, when we dedicated the Air Force Memorial in Washington, D.C. to the 55,000 Airmen who gave their lives for their country and also to those who will in the future," Chief McKinley said. "Another highlight has been the opportunity to visit with our great Airmen around the world. Their professionalism, esprit de corps and dedication are inspirational."