Key Field Honors Former Leaders

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Sabrina Dalton
  • 186th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Former wing commanders and command chiefs gathered as honored guests to remember the past and learn about the future of the 186th Air Refueling Wing here Jan. 29, 2016.

Col. Mike Nabors, 186 ARW commander, briefed the former leaders on Key Field's history, which each guest influenced, and explained current conditions and future plans for the base.

Those in attendance were retired wing commanders Gens. Sam Forbert Jr., Erik Hearon, Jim White, and Franklin Chalk.  Retired command chiefs in attendance were Chief Master Sgts. Billy Allen, Ron Holloway, Gerald Goodin, and Lindsey Keene.  Command Chief Master Sgt. is the highest enlisted rank that one can attain in the Air National Guard.  Attaining this rank is pinnacle in an enlisted person's military career.  Chief Master Sgts. manage and mentor junior personnel within their unit as well as advise commanders on matters that affect the enlisted ranks.

Nabors presented the former wing commanders and command chiefs with Key Field's new history book, a commemorative coin, and squadron patches.  The guests also toured the base to see the changes and progress that have occurred.

Forbert, who led the unit from 1970 to 1978, has seen the most progress of all the honored guests.  He began his career in the Air National Guard in the late 1940's as a fighter pilot.  Forbert was mobilized during the Korean War, the Berlin Airlift, and other global events.

"If anyone is interested in some aspect of the military, I would certainly tell anyone that you can get a good education, have a good life, and learn discipline," Forbert said.  "The military is a wonderful thing, especially if there is some job in the military that you are interested in.  If you are interested in it, you can apply yourself and be happy the rest of your life."

The former leaders, whose military careers total nearly 250 years, reminisced about their time at Key Field and what they missed the most.

"The unit has always been good to me and the people have always been great," said Keene, who was command chief from 2006 to 2011.  "I always thought it was a real privilege to be associated with this unit. It has an amazing history, and I still try to be associated with it even today."

"I loved my job from the day I got in to the day I retired," said Allen, who was command chief from 1997 - 2000.  "I miss the camaraderie of the Guard and being a part of the team that I'm so proud of in the Mississippi Air National Guard."

The Wingman Concept that is inherent to the Air National Guard is alive and well at Key Field because of the positive impact that the eight former leaders left on today's Citizen Airmen.