CMSAF Parish comes back to 17th AF

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 17th Air Force, also known as Air Forces Africa, had a special visit Jan. 20 from a member who has had a significant imprint on Air Force history as well as on the unit.

The eighth Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Samuel Parish, who was a member of 17th Air Force in Bitburg, Germany, over 50 years ago, spoke to Airmen here about their mission in Africa and what great enlisted leaders can do to ensure mission success.
"The secrets of our own military success are our [NCO] corps," he said. "We are teaching that to other countries and if we have the right leadership, we will go far. We have the best AF we have ever had."

The former CMSAF also took a tour of the 17th Air Force Headquarters building and directorates to have a better understanding of how the unit works with partner nations in Africa. Despite the challenges of working on a challenging continent, the chief had a positive outlook on the unit's continued progress with the partnership in African nations.

"We are so far ahead of where I dreamed we could be," he said. "Just realize that 10 to 15 years ago I would have said this was impossible, the things we are trying to accomplish. But we didn't get where we are by accident. The Air Force has had the leadership to let us succeed, to even make mistakes and move on."

Although the difference between Airmen now and when he held the CMSAF position from August 1983 until his retirement in 1986, are "like night and day," some things remain the same in the Air Force.

"Most Airmen in my day were very rural," he said. "Now they come from all walks of life and they are growing up in a different society. However, the most important issues have remained the same - taking care of families and taking care of people."

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Sam E. Parish was adviser to secretaries of the Air Force Verne Orr and Russell A. Rourke and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles A. Gabriel. He served as U.S. Air Forces in Europe senior enlisted adviser at Ramstein from November 1977 to August 1980.