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Chief Induction ceremony

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgts. Melissa D. Bridges (left) and Joi T. Washington (right) pose for a photo with Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Chief Master Sergeants are able to serve as Squadron Superintendents, Group Superintendents, First Sergeants and Command Chief Master Sergeants, each with its own unique duty responsibilities. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgts. Melissa D. Bridges (left) and Joi T. Washington (right) pose for a photo with Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Chief Master Sergeants are able to serve as Squadron Superintendents, Group Superintendents, First Sergeants and Command Chief Master Sergeants, each with its own unique duty responsibilities. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Joi T. Washington (center) posed for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing, commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing, command chief during the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Chief Master Sgt. is the ninth and highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force, these non-commissioned officers are expected to serve as mentors for the enlisted force and advisors to commanders and senior officers. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Joi T. Washington (center) posed for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing, commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing, command chief during the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Chief Master Sgt. is the ninth and highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force, these non-commissioned officers are expected to serve as mentors for the enlisted force and advisors to commanders and senior officers. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Melissa D. Bridges (center) posed for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing, commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing, command chief during the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The Chief Induction ceremony represents the culmination of obtaining the highest enlisted rank, held only by the top one percent of the total enlisted force as authorized by 1958 Career Compensation Act. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Melissa D. Bridges (center) posed for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing, commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing, command chief during the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The Chief Induction ceremony represents the culmination of obtaining the highest enlisted rank, held only by the top one percent of the total enlisted force as authorized by 1958 Career Compensation Act. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgts. Melissa D. Bridges (center left) and Joi T. Washington (center right), are joined by Chief Master Sgts., retired and active duty for a group photo at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The Chief Induction ceremony is a separate recognition event from the monthly promotion ceremony that honors the singularly distinctive accomplishments of those inducted to the rank of Chief. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgts. Melissa D. Bridges (center left) and Joi T. Washington (center right), are joined by Chief Master Sgts., retired and active duty for a group photo at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The Chief Induction ceremony is a separate recognition event from the monthly promotion ceremony that honors the singularly distinctive accomplishments of those inducted to the rank of Chief. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Melissa D. Bridges, 14th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron superintendent (center) and family, pose for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief, at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Bridges supported the medical needs of CAFB personnel and their families while advising the squadron commander on matters concerning military personnel, training, and equipment. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Melissa D. Bridges, 14th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron superintendent (center) and family, pose for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief, at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Bridges supported the medical needs of CAFB personnel and their families while advising the squadron commander on matters concerning military personnel, training, and equipment. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Joi T. Washington, 14th Force Support Squadron superintendent (center) and family, pose for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief, at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Washington provided administrative oversight to multiple personnel and family support offices within the 14th Force Support Squadron during her assignment to CAFB. Washington departed CAFB in July 21 during a Permanent Change of Station. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Joi T. Washington, 14th Force Support Squadron superintendent (center) and family, pose for a photo with Col. Seth W. Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander (left) and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief, at the Chief Induction ceremony, July 22, 2021 on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Washington provided administrative oversight to multiple personnel and family support offices within the 14th Force Support Squadron during her assignment to CAFB. Washington departed CAFB in July 21 during a Permanent Change of Station. (Multimedia Services photo by Melissa A. Duncan-Doublin)

Columbus AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Columbus Air Force Base held a Chief Induction ceremony July 22, 2021, to recognize the achievements of Chief selectees Senior Master Sgt. Joi T. Washington 14th Force Support Squadron superintendent, and Senior Master Sgt. Melissa D. Bridges, 14th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron superintendent as they were inducted to the highest rank of the enlisted force: Chief Master Sergeant.

In 1958, Congress passed The Career Compensation Act, paving the way for the new ranks of E-8 and E-9. Only one percent of the enlisted force could serve in the pay grade of E-9. Chief Master Sergeants hold key leadership roles at all levels throughout the Air Force, often serving as command chiefs that advise the wing commander on issues affecting the force, and serve as commandants, functional career field managers and superintendents. The Chief Selects and their families met with the commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing, Col. Seth W. Graham, and the command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Antonio L. Cooper, for the traditional Medallion Ceremony before the Induction Ceremony.  

“The Medallion Ceremony is a private event for the Chief Selects and their families. There are many versions but the purpose is the same,” said Cooper. “It signifies a rare milestone for our enlisted leaders but also outlines the expectations, roles and responsibilities that will be required from our future Chiefs.”

Bridges serves as the 14th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron superintendent on Columbus AFB. As superintendent she provides leadership and effective utilization and management to organize, equip and train 61 assigned personnel supporting the Columbus Air Force Base community and personnel medical needs. Bridges advises the squadron commander on matters concerning authorizations, assignments, personnel, morale and welfare. She is currently the 4N Functional Manager for the 14th Medical Group and is responsible for the medical development of 18 medics.

“You don’t have to be a chief to be a leader. If you have someone who is accountable, networks, sacrifices and has empathy, confidence, and emotional self-awareness, we use all of these things as a leader to recognize how we need to bring people with us,” said Bridges. “Holding people accountable and collaborating is how you build teams because we can’t do this job alone.”

Bridges entered the Air Force in January of 2002 and graduated from the Medical Services Technician course at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas in July of the same year. She held many roles throughout her career to include supporting OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL and the NATO Resolute Support mission.

“Excellence is a standard and not an achievement,” said Bridges. “It lays the foundation for everything we do.”

Washington served as the 14th Force Support Squadron superintendent on Columbus Air Force Base. She was responsible for providing mission support through the Manpower and Personnel, Service Sustainment, Force Development, Airman and Family Services, Community Services, Honor Guard and Installation Personnel Readiness offices to over 3000 personnel and family members. Washington provided comments during her Permanent Change of Station to her new duty location.

“As a chief I want to further advance our inclusiveness,” said Washington. “Yes, we make great strides in our Air Force to be inclusive and have diversity, but I want that to have a bigger impact to where we’re not just doing it, it’s an automatic thing. We’re not making a conscious effort to do it, it just comes natural.”

Washington graduated from the Personnel Apprentice Course at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi and has since held numerous roles in personnel programs and policy in the numbered Air Force and squadrons assigned. She deployed in support of Operations: ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, RESOLUTE SUPPORT and INHERENT RESOLVE.

“I want to leave behind great teams, and I know that sounds crazy but you’re not getting anywhere without each other,” said Washington. She also expressed the need for a teamwork mentality throughout a service member’s career in the Air Force. “We can’t build anything alone.”