Team BLAZE celebrates chief master sergeant select during ceremony

  • Published
  • By Airman Hannah Bean
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Senior Master Sgt. Wade Steinback, 14th Flying Training Wing Maintenance Authority superintendent, was selected to promote to chief master sergeant in December of 2018 and was recognized during a chief recognition ceremony April 12 at the club.

Individuals with the rank of chief master sergeant serve in the highest enlisted rank and hold strategic leadership positions with tremendous influence at all levels of the Air Force. Only the top one percent of the enlisted force promotes to the rank of chief master sergeant.

“I’m incredibly humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve,” Steinback said. “The chief recognition ceremony was an amazing event and I thank all of those who helped to make it happen as well as those who were able to attend and share in the experience.”

Serving nearly 19 years in the Air Force, Steinback has seen a lot through the various bases and assignments he’s experienced throughout his career.

“When I first joined the Air Force, my goal at that time was to provide for my family, secure a means of attending college, and hopefully see a little more of the world,” Steinback said. “As time went on, I was fortunate to have peers, mentors, supervisors, chiefs, and commanders that helped me progress throughout my career to where I find myself today. I have always strived to do my best, and have been fortunate to have the opportunities afforded to me by the Air Force.”

As the highest ranked enlisted members, chief master sergeants are responsible for mentoring and developing junior enlisted personnel. They are also responsible for influencing the professional development of company grade officers.

During the ceremony retired Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Ricchuito, 14th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief, gave Steinback some advice on being a chief master sergeant.

“There’s no little elf that’s going to visit you the night before you sew on chief master sergeant and makes sure you know everything,” Ricchuito said. “So you’re not supposed to have all the answers to all the questions as a chief. A successful chief is a person that leads, but also if you don’t know the answers, you go and find them.”

Ricchuito went on speak about leadership and some of the hardships you can encounter in being a leader.

“If you find negativity, you have to find a way to make that positive,” Ricchuito said. “If you allow negativity in your formation, it will destroy your formation from the inside out. I speak from experience on this and I have learned that you have to sit down with negative people. You have to find out what their reason for being negative is. There’s a lot of angry people out there now, some are just angry because they think it’s the right thing to do with their anger. If as a chief you can solve it, then you try to fix it.”

Ricchuito spoke on being a senior enlisted leader and the responsibilities that come with it. He’s learned that being a chief means not only helping the enlisted cause, but the commanders and officers as well.

“Through positive leadership, through positive contact and through always telling them the truth, that’s the essence of what a chief master sergeant is” Ricchuito said. “I believe that most leaders, at the end of the day, appreciate the honesty from their chief.”

Ricchuito told Steinback that his Air Force core values will be tested, however, only Steinback himself can compromise them, noting that his troops will see him as a chief master sergeant. If they see inconsistencies in the way he leads and see that he too has fallacies, the negative people will try to escalate that and use it to divide the formation.

“Don’t let somebody else write your legacy for you,” Ricchuito said. “Be who you are, stay true to your core values and stay true to what the Air Force promoted you on. They promoted you because they believed that you are going to be a great chief master sergeant. Obviously because you were a great senior, master and technical sergeant. Those are the things that I can offer a little bit of advice on, Wade. You will remember this forever and you have to thank your family and your supervisors because nobody makes chief master sergeant by themselves. It is a team.”

After Ricchuito spoke, Airmen of each rank placed on the stripes of every rank in the enlisted corps, from airman basic all the way to chief master sergeant. Each stripe had a brief summary of what it meant to be that rank and the responsibilities attached to them.

Toward the end of the ceremony, Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, thanked all those who attended and reminded Steinback to look around the room and take in those who support him and recognize his achievement.

“Being a chief means that you have a responsibility to give back to our Air Force, not only our enlisted force, but our officers because there’s not a day that I can remember, from my serving on active duty for almost 22 years, where I haven’t needed the support, council, wisdom, expertise, experience, guidance or the kick in the butt from an NCO or senior NCO,” Weeks said. “Don’t forget that it’s a responsibility as you pin that on.”

Steinback said it is a privilege to be a part of Team BLAZE. He continued, thanking all of those that have made his promotion possible here at Columbus, as well as those whom he has served with in the past making a positive impact throughout his life and years of service.

“My goal for the future is to be able to be that positive influence for others in their lives and careers,” Steinback said.