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97 AMW command team receives highest honor

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell
  • Altus Air Force Base Public Affairs

The 97th Air Mobility Wing command team was inducted into the Order of the Flaming Spear during a ceremony held on May 21, 2021. 

This award was a way to show the 97th AMW command team how much its members appreciate their hard work and leadership for the past two years in Mobility’s Hometown. Col. Matthew Leard, 97th AMW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kay II, 97th AMW command chief, were the 15th and 16th members of the wing to be inducted into the order. 

“If we rewind 30-years to the day I graduated from high school, I never thought I would be doing something like this,” said Kay. “I just wanted to be in the Air Force and do something bigger and better than what I was. When I got to be chief and hired to be a command chief here at Altus, I knew that I just wanted this to be a better place for everyone, so I appreciate everyone for recognizing us.”

The award recognizes and honors those military senior officers, senior enlisted, and civilian equivalents, who through selfless acts of compassion display exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity by providing outstanding status, authority, and practical support to the wing’s enlisted force.

“I was raised in an Air Force family by a senior NCO,” said Leard. “I grew up hearing my dad talk unfavorably about his wing commander at the time. I don't know how much of what he said was true, but it certainly was the perception for the SNCOs and NCOs in the wing. So I always thought about this in the realm of ‘what are these actions perceived as?’ This has always been at the forefront of my mind.”

First implemented on Jan. 28, 1999, the 97th AMW Order of the Flaming Spear is the highest honor and tribute that the Altus AFB enlisted corps can bestow upon an individual, or in this case, individuals.

According to the masters of ceremony from the event, they were inducted because of their compassion for Airmen of the wing, focus on training exemplary Airmen, improving the quality of life for the Airmen and base community, and on top of everything else, remaining vigilant amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

At each ceremony, it is stated that the spear does not represent the power to rule, but signifies those awarded it are proven and outstanding leaders in the eyes of the wing’s enlisted corps. The flame of the spear is a symbol for all to see that the bearer is a warrior among warriors.

“The fact that you guys still decided to recognize us after this past year and a half, is important to me,” said Leard. “I will tell you that behind all of these decisions, my true focus has always been on Airmen and their families. I know that sometimes the choices we make don't always seem apparent, or are necessarily what people want. We are always trying to balance our physical health and mental health, while still going after this important mission that the American people expect us to do day in and day out. So thank you so much for this, it really is an incredible honor for me personally, the family, and for Chief Kay as well.”