USAFR Command Chief Kelly tours Freedom Wing, inspires Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ruben Rios

Command Chief Master Sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command, Chief Master Sgt. Ericka E. Kelly, met with fellow Reserve Citizen Airmen during a visit here, Feb. 8-9.


Chief Kelly is the highest ranking enlisted member in the Air Force Reserve Command and advises the Commander on all issues regarding the readiness, training, welfare, morale, proper utilization and progress of more than 55,000 enlisted active duty and Reserve Citizen Airmen serving at more than 60 military bases worldwide.


On her first day, Kelly spoke with members of the 514th Air Mobility Wing First Sergeants Council. She then spoke with other Freedom Wing members during a mentoring session.


The next day, Kelly sat down with Col. Thomas O. Pemberton, commander of the 514th, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Dana L. Capaldi for breakfast with the wing’s Star Performers.


After listening to multiple stories of exemplary work, as well as tails of triumph over adversity, Kelly shared her own anecdote about a time when she exemplified service without it being required. 


“I was staying at a hotel for work and being mistaken for room service, was asked for towels by a guest,” said Kelly. “I told her it would be my pleasure to bring the towels to her room but I needed to ask hotel staff for permission first.”


This story of her dealing with offensive stereotyping is just one of many stories Kelly told in which she recounted overcoming obstacles.


“If you fall, get up,” said Kelly in regards to failing or meeting obstacles.


Kelly thanked the star performers for their service and emphasized the importance of being a servant leader. She asked them to think about who they were out of uniform.


Throughout the rest of the day, as Kelly visited the 514th Force Support Squadron, 514th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 514th Civil Engineer Squadron, 35th Aerial Port Squadron and the 88th Aerial Port Squadron, she ran into many Airmen with whom she has served with throughout her 32 years of service.


Kelly enthusiastically ensured she set aside time to visit the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as her own career began with the 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, 944th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.


“Most members remove their occupational badge when they get higher up the ladder,” said Kelly. “I’m proud to leave mine on.”


At every stop during her visit, Kelly inspired those around her with her perspective on the Air Force core values’ as well as personal stories of her life as an adolescent, her position as a special agent for the Department of Homeland Security and her own career in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. 


Her visit wrapped up at the Annual Awards Banquet, where she spoke about her love for the Air Force and her career.  


At the end of the month Kelly will retire from a 32 year career in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. 


“I’ve had an amazing career,” said Kelly. “I loved being your chief, I love being a special agent, and now I will love retiring so I can return to my children.”