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178th Command Chief reflects on military career

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rachel Simones
  • 178th Wing

Chief Master Sgt. Scott McKenzie, the outgoing 178th Wing Command Chief, celebrates nearly 37 years of military service as he approaches retirement at the Springfield Air National Guard Base, June 3.

McKenzie’s military career began when he enlisted in August 1980 in the Ohio Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Squadron Life Support Section. He served as a Quality Insurance Representative and then served as the 178th Wing’s Operations Group Chief Enlisted Manager. He held his most recent position as the Command Chief of the 178th for more than two years.

“As I look back over the nearly 37 years since I began in this unit, to say I have seen some change is an understatement,” said McKenzie.

One of those changes McKenzie highlighted was also one of the proudest moments of his career; helping the 178th Wing transition from a fighter wing to an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance wing.

“We have shuffled through various aircraft, major commands and missions throughout those years, but I feel the most significant change I have seen in my time was the shift to our current mission sets,” said McKenzie.

Members of the 178th Wing relied on McKenzie to guide them into their new careers. McKenzie met with Airmen to discuss educational and career opportunities during the base’s transition.

“To see people step up and transition the way that they did was incredible,” said McKenzie.

Many Airmen had to learn new skills for the base’s drastic change in mission, and McKenzie helped make the transition smooth. He walked Airmen through the steps of cross-training, which allowed the base to successfully conduct the new mission.

McKenzie noted that he was proud to see 178th members excel in their new career fields. The Airmen not only learned new skills, but they became masters of their career fields.

McKenzie reflected on the milestones in his military career. He discussed how the military allowed him to experience his first time flying commercial, his first time seeing the ocean, and travelling the world.

“Coming from a city of 7,000 people, the Guard allowed me to experience things I wouldn’t have been able to,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie joined the Air Force to gain new opportunities he was unable to experience growing up in a small town in the Midwest.

McKenzie met lifelong friends and travelled the world throughout his career. He enjoyed the sense of comradery and teamwork present in military life.

McKenzie related the Air Force to a sports team when he highlighted the values that are important for both groups: fellowship and dedication.
The outgoing command chief highlighted the values that he learned throughout his Air Force career.

“The military has taught me discipline and comradery,” said McKenzie.

Through McKenzie’s different job experiences in the military, he made relationships with others and positively influenced those around him. The connections he made throughout his career allowed him to succeed as an approachable command chief.

He also offered advice for young Airmen to focus on their job, and become an expert at it.

“Become the best at whatever your [job] is,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie also imparted a final important piece of advice: lead from where you are.

“Leadership has nothing to do with the rank on your uniform and everything to do with what’s in your heart,” said McKenzie.