13th CMSAF visits graduating NCOs

by Senior Airman Amanda Dick
Ramstein Public Affairs

Retired Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Frederick J. Finch spoke to the Kapaun Non-commissioned Officer Academy graduating Class 2009-05 during a question and answer session May 20 in the NCO Academy auditorium on Kapaun.

Chief Finch was invited by Chief Master Sgt. Pamela Derrow, U.S. Air Forces in Europe command chief, and the commandant of the NCO Academy to be the keynote speaker at the class’ graduation ceremony May 21, but said he also wanted to spend time with Airmen during his visit.

“I asked for the opportunity to visit some of the men and women who work here,” Chief Finch said. “I’m always delighted to spend time with Airmen. It makes you feel
better about our Air Force.”

Many of the NCOs said they were very grateful for the chief’s visit.

“To know that even someone retired from the military still cares enough to want to come back and share their experiences tells me we’re in the right place and doing the right thing,” said Tech. Sgt. Melvin Kniffen III, Headquarters 3rd
Air Force Theater Patient Movement Requirement Center assistant non-commissioned officer in charge of operations and current academy student.

Sergeant Kniffen said what he appreciated most was the chief’s candidness.
“He wasn’t trying to hide behind anything,” the non-commissioned officer said. “He was very forward, up front and honest and seemed very sincere.”

One thing Sergeant Kniffen said he learned most from the question and answer session was the issue of having integrity with troops.

“The chief said first and foremost, we can pass down integrity to the Airmen,” he said. “If we make sure to show integrity, then that’s going to show our troops the right way to act in the military. So, always do what’s right, even if it’s the hard decision.”

While at Kapaun, Chief Finch said he hoped to give perspective to the future senior NCOs about the issues they’re facing today.

“More than anything else, I think it’s helpful to have someone like us add perhaps a little bit of behind-the-scenes information to what was going on and what the thought processes were that made some of the decisions for today’s policies,” he said. “I think it’s always helpful for not only the current chief master sergeant of the Air Force, but also the formers to help add perspective from their era.”

Chief Finch, whose background is in missile maintenance and professional military education, entered the Air Force in July 1974 and went on to become the 13th CMSAF on Aug. 2, 1999.

He retired from active-duty on July 1, 2002.