Retired General Wolters to receive Order of the Sword

  • Published
  • By Mr. Dreshawn Murray

Retired General Tod D. Wolters, former Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa, has been selected as the next recipient of USAFE’s Order of the Sword announced June 12, 2023.

Established and bestowed by the enlisted force, the Order of the Sword stands as the ultimate honor, recognizing an individual for their remarkable contributions to enlisted personnel.

“I feel deeply honored and profoundly humbled to receive this esteemed recognition,” said U.S. Air Force retired General Tod Wolters. “As an officer serving alongside the most exceptional enlisted force in the world was the pinnacle of my career so this distinction holds immeasurable significance to me, I’m forever grateful.

Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin W. Hedden, Command Chief of USAFE-AFAFRICA surprised Wolters at what was disguised as the USAFE-AFAFRICA Superintendent Course, a course in which Wolters championed the creation of.

"The sword, a symbol of truth, justice, and power rightfully used, served as a token for all to see and know that here was a leader among leaders,” Hedden said. “We are continuing to reap the benefits of General Wolters’ hard work for the enlisted force in the command.” 

Wolters’ dedication to the enlisted force was highlighted by three key initiatives that Hedden outlined.

Along with the squadron leadership course, another of Wolters’ initiatives was the Inter-European Air Forces Academy, training company grader officers and junior noncommissioned officers together in a blended curriculum.

“The hard work of General Wolters helped build the credibility for the enlisted force throughout Europe,” said Hedden. “The program was such a success that Congress expanded our authorization to include African partners, which we have sent our first two African partners through the course with more in the pipeline.”   

"Anyone who served with General Wolters knows how fortunate we were to have served with this great American, a true leader," the chief said.

With Wolters’ induction into the Order of the Sword, he'll take part in a tradition dating back several centuries.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for awarding me the Order of the Sword,” Wolters said. “It truly means the world.”

The ceremonial presentation was adopted from the Royal Order of the Sword and passed to the United States during the Revolutionary War. However, it lay dormant until it was reinstituted in its current form in 1967. The original order of the sword was patterned after two orders of chivalry founded during the Middle Ages in Europe: the (British) Royal Order of the Sword and the Swedish Military Order of the Sword, still in existence today.

A formal ceremony will be held in the Spring of 2024 for Wolters.