USAFE command chief retires

Story and photo by Tech. Sgt. Corey Clements
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affiairs

***image1***After more than 30 years of successful service, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Command Chief Master Sgt. Gary G. Coleman was honored Nov. 16 during a retirement ceremony officiated by Gen. Tom Hobbins, USAFE commander.

Chief Coleman will bid farewell to the U.S. Air Force effective May 1, 2008.
Special guests Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley, the eighth Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Sam Parrish and a few hundred other guests attended as General Hobbins reflected on Chief Coleman’s three decades of military service.

“He’s always looking out for his people –always” said General Hobbins of Chief Coleman. “I see this every day. He’s in my office every morning talking to me and he always has the best interests of our Airmen in mind.

The general highlighted the numerous accolades the chief had achieved and the experiences they’ve shared, like rewarding individuals with “stripes for exceptional performance,” commonly referred to as STEP promotions. Together, they visited Airmen across the command as well as downrange, always looking for things that needed to be done to make Airmen’s jobs and lives easier.

“Words don’t adequately describe the kind of care and commitment, improvement efforts, the acceptance of responsibility, dedication and honor he portrays,” said General Hobbins.

Chief Coleman was presented the Legion of Merit medal, a certificate of appreciation from the President of the United States, along with his retirement orders and a host of appreciation letters and certificates from top Air Force officials. His wife, Harriet, was also honored with a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Air Force.

Chief Coleman had the opportunity to reflect on his career and joke about his experiences as a young Airman as the audience often times roared, with laughter. Looking back, he sees that the Air Force is better than it used to be and attributes that to the enlisted men and women serving today.

“Back in those days, our enlisted force was nowhere near where it is today,” said Chief Coleman. “We’ve come a long way − our enlisted men and women are the brightest that this Air Force has ever seen. I find solace and strength in knowing that you all will replace me and take this great Air Force to the next level.”