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Chief Gaylor visits Nellis Airmen

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The fifth chief master sergeant of the Air Force visited Nellis July 21 and spoke with base Airmen at an enlisted call in the base theater.

There was standing room only in the theater as Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Robert Gaylor, took time to speak to Airmen and answer questions.

"Chief Gaylor is a dynamic and entertaining speaker," said Senior Master Sgt. Jim Scheppard, 99th Security Support Squadron first sergeant. "Through his unique form of storytelling, he weaves important lessons for your life and career."

A self-proclaimed encyclopedia of Air Force history, Chief Gaylor, who served in the top enlisted billet from August of 1977 until his retirement on July 31, 1979, tours bases around the Air Force and offers advice and stories from his life to provide guidance and wisdom to enlisted troops.

"I joined the Air Force in 1948 on a three-year enlistment and ended up staying 31 years," the chief said. "I retired in 1979 and went to work with an insurance firm in San Antonio. I retired from that in 1995 and threw my hat back into the Air Force ring -- interested in going out and speaking at different events -- so that's what I do."

Chief Gaylor spoke to the Airmen about personal attitude, leadership and the importance of everyone's role in the Air Force's mission.

"Everyone is important," he said. "You really impress me. Wow!" and proceeded to explain with a story.

The chief told a story about a Whiteman AFB, Mo., unit that got its first mission soon after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Whiteman was tasked to fly two B-2 missions to Afghanistan," he said. "At that time the B-2s could only land at Whiteman, so when they fly the mission they have to come straight back refueling in the air because they can't land.

"Imagine the excitement -- 'Wow we've been tasked to fly, not training, the real thing.' The planes are parked on the flightline under spot lights. Launch time is 2300 hours, and it's 2100; it's time to do the checklist. People are there -- crews and families.

"The wing commander goes up on the stand and says 'We'll do the checklist: bombs!' and the munitions guy says, 'Yes, sir!' 'Fuel!' 'Yes, sir!' 'Relief tubes!' 'Yes, sir!'
"You better have relief tubes if you're going to be gone for 40 something hours," he continued.

"'Food,'" he continued. "'Oh my God we forgot the food, no one thought about food!'

"Franticly, they get on the radio, and a few minutes later a guy comes screeching up like a race car in his personal vehicle. He gets out with the boxed lunches to a standing ovation. At that moment on Whiteman AFB, Mo., the dude with the bologna sandwiches is the most important guy on the base.

"Everyone is important."

The chief also explained how people have different talents.

He used his neighbor, Jeff, to highlight this point. Jeff was his 13-year-old neighbor when the chief lived on Andrews AFB, Md., more than 20 years ago.

He explained how one fine morning he encountered Jeff's torso hanging out of the car. When the chief went to inquire what young Jeff was doing, Jeff said, "I'm adjusting the carburetor."

Chief Gaylor was astounded by this. "You know how to adjust a carburetor?" -- "Sure, doesn't everybody?"

The chief thought to himself, "No, everyone doesn't," but didn't share that with Jeff.
The chief decided that although he couldn't adjust a carburetor, he could talk. And that's what he does.

"Everyone has a talent -- I believe when you're born God gives us each a special talent. You just have to figure out what yours is and then find a way to get paid for it."

The chief spoke to the crowd for about an hour, and it was time well spent.

Chief Master Sgt. Britton Ellis, command chief master sergeant for the 99th Air Base Wing, said, "He's a great leader, an outstanding motivator, and a perfect example for our Airmen to emulate in today's Air Force. It was an honor to have him visit us."

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