JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
The McChord Chapter of the Air Force Sergeants Association marked its 50th Anniversary by presenting the chapter’s original charter to the Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School here, October 31.
Cary Hatzinger, former 62nd Airlift Wing command chief and current senior advisor of the Chief Master Sgt. Thomas N. Barnes AFSA Chapter, gifted the decades old document to Master Sgt. Kenneth Markline, ALS commandant, who accepted on behalf of the organization and its students.
“Mr. Hatzinger is very familiar with our collection of enlisted heritage items,” Markline said. “We both felt that the charter, and what it represented, would be an excellent addition to our heritage collection. The Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School staff and I are honored that we've been entrusted with another piece of history to proudly display and preserve.”
The chapter as well as the charter has undoubtedly claimed a place in history.
“Chapter 1461 has been active on McChord since it was first chartered as Chapter 691 in October of 1967,” Hantzinger said. “[Since] that time, we have grown from one of the smallest to the largest of the 132 chapters with over 2,300 members.”
The exceptional growth of the McChord AFSA Chapter is a testament to the faith Airmen put in the organization’s ability to affect change, and champion causes on behalf of service men and women.
“AFSA is the voice of the enlisted corps,” Hatzinger said. “It advocates for improved quality of life and economic fairness that will support the well-being of the Total Air Force, [Air Force active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve] enlisted personnel and their families.”
Acting as the voice of the enlisted corps requires the association to use its 132 chapters, located both nationally and internationally, to keep a finger on the political pulse and monitor legislation that may impact Airmen and their loved ones.
“AFSA is organized in seven divisions across the U.S. and overseas; the heart of AFSA is its chapters,” Hatzinger explained. “It is headquartered in Maryland and works closely with senior congressional and military members on issues affecting all Air Force members - active, reserve, guard and retired. As a federally-chartered Veteran Service Organization, AFSA is able to lobby on Capitol Hill on behalf of its members.”
Though AFSA has movers and shakers plugged into happenings on the Hill, its many chapters enable AFSA to be locally engaged as well. At McChord, the Thomas N. Barnes AFSA Chapter maintains active relationships with organizations both on and off base to ensure the continued strength of the NCO Corps, and safeguard its heritage.
“The [McChord] Chapter is currently supporting activities at the Orting Soldier Home, Airmen Leadership School and Noncommissioned Officer Professional Education, and hosting all the activities that take place on base for POW/MIA Recognition Week,” Hatzinger said.
Created by four NCOs in 1691, the corps of the noncommissioned officer is revered among AFSA members to this day.
“We presented this to the Airmen Leadership School to keep in their heritage room because the ALS is the bridge from Airman to NCO,” Hatzinger said. “The Air Force Sergeants Association was created by NCOs and originally you had to be an NCO to belong. AFSA no longer requires you to be an NCO to belong, but based on its beginnings and recognizing that as Airmen become NCOs they have a duty to take care of other Airmen, it seemed the most fitting place to keep this important piece of the Chapter’s history.”
Markline echoed Hatzinger’s sentiments.
“We teach new and upcoming NCOs to lead equitably, and to serve not only their Air Force and unit, but their subordinates, supervisors and co-workers as well,” Markline said. “AFSA does the same by serving the enlisted corps and our families, both past and present.”