New Wing Command Chief to Emphasize Recognition, Education

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. David Speicher
  • 175th Wing Public Affairs

Col. Scott L. Kelly, 175th Wing commander, recently announced the selection of Chief Master Sgt. Harold E. Stewart as the wing's new command chief master sergeant. Chief Stewart comes to the position from the 175th Network Warfare Squadron, where he was the chief enlisted manager for seven years.

"The wing command chief master sergeant is the pulse, the conduit and the leader of the entire enlisted force here at the wing," said Colonel Kelly. "He is the connection between the enlisted force, the mission and the chain of command. I view that as one of the most important positions in the wing, regardless of rank."

Chief Stewart assumed his new duties Nov. 1. He is replacing Command Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth C. Wheeler, who officially retires Nov. 30.

"We have had great representation over the past years with Chief Wheeler. I have great confidence that Chief Stewart will pick up right where Chief Wheeler left off," said Colonel Kelly. "In the short time that he has been selected, he's been putting in a lot of time and been very visible. I think the wing members will soon know the type of person that Harold Stewart is."

Chief Stewart hopes the transition between the command chiefs will be seamless. "I am working with Chief Wheeler to see what is being worked on," he said. 

While he's still canvassing the base to learn what else might need to be addressed, the new command chief has already identified two areas on which he plans to concentrate: Airman recognition and education.

"I will work to make sure our Airmen are being recognized on both the state and federal levels," said Chief Stewart. "Not all Airmen are motivated by money. A pat on the back [is all some want]. It could make a difference in whether they stay or leave [the unit]."

He will also stress education, both professional military and civilian. "The education process - I have a strong passion for it," he said.

"Your professional military education is a value-added asset to your overall educational resume," said Chief Stewart. "Everything is blended now. Civilian employers are looking for military experience. PME adds value to your civilian side." 

The chief emphasized that for Airmen who are working on their PME, a Community College of the Air Force degree should be easy to acquire with a minimal number of outside classes. He pointed out that he has earned several degrees over the years, from Capital College, the Community College of Catonsville, and the Community College of the Air Force. 

"Continuing education, military and civilian, should be viewed as one," said Chief Stewart.

Chief Stewart's decision to apply for the command chief position was something of an about-face for him: he had applied for retirement in 2008 and had even started to outprocess. 

But his fellow chiefs encouraged him to apply for the command chief position. 

After giving it some thought, Chief Stewart applied for the state command chief position, which was being vacated by then-Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark Maselli. When that position went to Chief Master Sgt. Glenn Hart, Chief Stewart decided to give it another shot and put in for the wing command chief position, for which he was selected.

Chief Stewart enlisted in 1977 and started his Maryland military career in the 135th Mobile Aerial Port Flight. By August 1978 he became a loadmaster with the 135th Tactical Airlift Squadron. He accumulated over 5,000 flight hours as an enlisted aircrew member in C-7 and C-130B, E and J model aircraft.

Chief Stewart is also the first African-American command chief in the Maryland Air National Guard. 

But the chief gives short shrift to his own accomplishments. What matters most to him is looking out for the troops.

"I see 90 percent of this job as serving people. I am here to work for you," he said. "I am your advocate, but not to circumvent your leadership; I serve as a bridge between you and the wing commander. If I feel that there are other things that can be done to assist you, I will step in."