A humble but effective NCO becomes a Chief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Phil Fountain
  • 149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In a ceremony steeped in military tradition, a 24-year veteran of the United States Air Force and Texas Air National Guard was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant. The 149th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Kenneth Nereson, and other officers and enlisted members of the unit looked on as SMSgt John D. Mead was presented with a coin and service dress coat that signified his elevation to the highest enlisted rank. 
CMSgt John D. Mead was raised in Sulphur, Louisiana, and enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from high school. Trained as an Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) mechanic, he spent 4 years on active duty before joining the Air National Guard in 1990. Chief Mead is described as a humble, but effective, leader. As the 149th Fighter Wing's Maintenance Operations Flight Superintendent, Chief Mead is responsible for more than 20 people. His area of responsibility includes work performed by the Maintenance Training, Analysis, Maintenance Operations Center, Plans and Scheduling, and Engine Management sections. 
Congress created the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in 1958. Under law, the rank may not be held by more than one percent of Air Force members. Individuals who serve as a Chief possess unique talents and personal characteristics required to manage Air Force people and programs. An individual who achieves the rank of Chief Master Sergeant does not get there alone. In Chief Mead's case, he had his family's full support. His wife, Alma, and other family members were present for Saturday's ceremony. They were visibly proud, and described him as driven and determined. Chief Mead has also been an inspiration to others he has led. 
The Chief's personality and leadership prompted a former troop of his, who is now a commissioned officer, to return to Lackland to attend the ceremony. 2nd Lt. Seth Ehrlich, a native of Los Angeles, California, said Chief Mead "brought me into the AGE Flight after I left active duty," which allowed him to continue his military service. Lt. Ehrlich was grateful for the Chief's trust and leadership. As a Staff Sgt. in the AGE shop, Ehrlich also attended Texas A&M University. After earning his degree, Ehrlich received an active duty commission, and is now undergoing flight training at Laughlin Air Force Base, in Del Rio, Texas. Chief Mead modestly accepted his new responsibilities by saying "I don't take this promotion lightly, and look forward to serving for many years to come."