USAFE future now includes Parish Enlisted Heritage Room

Master Sgt. Chuck Roberts
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

***image1***A former chief master sergeant of the Air Force dedicated to the preservation of enlisted history was honored at a ceremonial opening of an enlisted heritage room bearing his name.

The Parish Enlisted Heritage Room became a reality Sept. 22 at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters building where artifacts dating back to World War II have found a home.

It was also a homecoming of sorts for former Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Sam E. Parish, the eighth chief master sergeant of the Air Force from 1983 to 1986, and the USAFE senior enlisted advisor from 1977 to 1980.
 “You know it’s always good to come back home, and especially for something like this,” Chief Parish said before a large crowd outside the headquarters building. “I’ve been an advocate for inclusion of our enlisted men and women and our written Air Force history, and anybody that’s ever heard me talk has known that for many years. We’re getting better, but we’re not there yet. For USAFE to take this step, well in my humble opinion, there’s no honor that could be greater than to be selected to help dedicate this heritage center.”
Chief Parish said he was honored, but noted the honor was not all his.
 “There are so many others that have come before and contributed so much to our Air Force and USAFE. To say I’m honored, I think, would be a gross, gross understatement,” said Chief Parish.

In his introductory remarks, USAFE Commander Gen. Tom Hobbins praised the vital contributions of enlisted USAFE Airmen spanning World War II, the Berlin Airlift, the Cold War, two Gulf Wars and the continued fight against the Global War on Terrorism.

 “It’s only fitting that as we begin to celebrate these milestones, we dedicate the USAFE Heritage Room in honor of the eighth chief master sergeant of the Air Force, Sam E. Parish, for his many contributions to the morale and welfare of enlisted troops throughout USAFE, past and present,” said General Hobbins.

The concept for the Parish Heritage Room came about when USAFE collected about $32,000 for the Berlin to Baghdad Memorial Fund conducted by the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall at Maxwell Air Force Base – Gunter Annex, Ala. The purpose was to provide museum-quality exhibits and displays for the Enlisted Heritage Hall’s new wing dealing with the Cold War era.

 “It caused us to reflect on what kind of displays, artifacts we had here in the command reflective of enlisted men and women’s contributions,” said USAFE Command Chief Master Sgt. Gary Coleman, who spearheaded the effort to transform the former drab training room into one with a stylish collection that includes artifacts, historical photos and uniforms, and a viewing section for audiovisual presentations. Also contributing toward the drive for a new home for the artifacts was the redesign to the entry for the USAFE headquarters building where they were displayed.

Chief Coleman echoed the sentiments of Chief Parish about the need for better care of documenting enlisted Air Force history.
 “If you review volumes of text in Air Force history, you will find very little documentation of the contributions of enlisted men and women,” Chief Coleman said. “It’s important for today’s Airmen to know where we’ve been, to appreciate better where we’re at, and more importantly, looking forward to the future,” said Chief Coleman.

The heritage room collection scored high marks from Tech. Sgt. Treena Merk, a professional military education instructor from Kapaun Air Station, who said Chief Parish was right on the mark about preserving enlisted history.
 “It’s a tribute to the enlisted force and to try to get everybody on the same page on our traditions. We’re part of that history and tradition, and I feel proud to be a part of that.”

The room was created through a wide variety of workers and volunteers, including civil engineers, the Kisling NCO Academy, visual information center, and the Ramstein Enlisted Spouses Association, among others.