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Former CMSAF Robert Gaylor shares “three words” with 59th MDW

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melody Bordeaux
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas-- Aptitude. Attitude. Opportunity. Those are the three words retired Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Robert Gaylor shared during his visit to Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Aug. 2, 2023.

Gaylor has a remarkable memory, giving him the ability to share a detailed history of his experiences and how aptitude and attitude provided him opportunities he could have never imagined.

"In 1967, [I,] Senior Master Sgt. Gaylor was a cop in Korat, Thailand," Gaylor said. “[I] promoted to Chief on April 1st and on that day [they announced] the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Paul Wesley Airey. His picture was all over Stars and Stripes newspapers, and wow, we now have an enlisted person representing us at the top."

Along with 15 other military chiefs, Gaylor got the chance to meet Airey six months later. He recalls admiring his chevron and admits that if anyone would have suggested at that time he might one day become the CMSAF he would have laughed in disbelief.

"As you know, 10 years later, almost to the day, [they said] “Chief Gaylor come into the Pentagon and be number five,” he shared. "That should tell you something. You have no idea where you'll be in 10 years. You have no idea what you will be doing or what position you'll hold. You may know what you'd like for it to be. You may have a dream or a goal, but life doesn't work that way."

Gaylor wanted the lesson from his life to focus on opportunity. He said there are two things you can control to have many opportunities.

"Aptitude!" Gaylor said. "Knowledge, skill, talent, ability, constantly learning, you owe it to yourself. It'll make doors open."

Reading books, gaining experience, completing college and more all contribute to aptitude, he said.

"So aptitude and the second word, attitude," he continued. "That's where I'm the expert, because I dazzled the Air Force with attitude. I wasn't the brightest bulb in the closet. My AFQT score when I enlisted was 114. I didn't know what that meant, but attitude, motivation, living up to my oath and creed, that’s where I excelled."

Gaylor shares how as CMSAF he met Airmen from many different jobs. Some had lost motivation and were unhappy, while others were excited to share the impact they were making. He explained that this was their attitude and if they can see why what they do is important, they will have opportunities.

"No one can be bored without their permission," Gaylor said. "No one can be angry without their permission. People asked me, 'Are you nervous before you speak?' I said, no, not really. 'How do you keep from being nervous?' I choose not to be. Whose choice is it?"

He expresses he doesn't know why he was chosen to be CMSAF but is happy he had the opportunity because he loves the Air Force.

"Aptitude and attitude lead to opportunity," Gaylor said.