CMSgt Robert D. Gaylor

CMSgt Robert D. Gaylor

USAFE Senior Enlisted Advisor

Aug '73 - Sep '74
Selected as CMSAF #5

- The following is a historical narrative written by Chief Gaylor in July 2009 reflecting on the events that led to his tour in USAFE and his subsequent selection as the command's Senior Enlisted Advisor.

- My part of the story begins in the spring months of 1971 at Barksdale AFB, LA. I was serving as the 2 AF Sergeant Major (the title widely used at that time), having been selected for that position by Lt Gen David C. Jones, 2 AF Commander. In March, 1971, General Jones was notified of his selection as USAFE Commander and nomination for his 4th star. He departed Barksdale in March, 1971, and invited me to join him in USAFE two months later. My family and I departed Barksdale AFB in July, 1971, and began our USAFE tour.

- In 1971, USAFE Headquarters was located at Lindsey Air Station in the city of Wiesbaden, Germany, and my family settled at that location. The USAFE Senior Enlisted Advisor in July, 1971, was CMSgt Phillip A. Horn (now deceased). He had replaced CMSgt Dick Stuart in 1970; Chief Stuart retired in the Patrick AFB, Florida, area.

- In the early 70's, USAFE did not have an NCO Academy and General Jones assigned me the responsibility of opening the USAFE Command Management Center, a 60-hour course of instructional leadership and management for USAFE NCOs. There were four of us instructors and an administrative sergeant. The center was located on Lindsey Air Station.

- In 1972, Chief Horn, Senior Enlisted Advisor, departed USAFE, and was replaced by CMSgt Crawford C. Richardson, an African American Chief assigned to RAF Upper Heyford, UK. He and his wife, a Captain nurse, relocated to Wiesbaden, Germany.

- In 1973, General Jones, made the grand decision to move USAFE Headquarters from Lindsey Air Station 60 miles south to Ramstein AB, Germany. The decision was not popular primarily because of housing shortages in the Ramstein AB area. Chief Richardson's wife, a nurse, was assigned to the Wiesbaden hospital and was unable to relocate. As a result, Chief Richardson elected to retire from the Air Force rather than move to Ramstein.

- In August, 1973, General Jones surprised me by asking me to move into the USAFE Senior Enlisted Advisor position. I wasn't that excited about the position as we were relocating the USAFE Command Management Center to Sembach AB and I had hope and vision of eventually opening a USAFE NCO Academy. But you don't say no to a four-star general so I became the very first USAFE Senior Enlisted Advisor assigned to Ramstein AB. As an aside, there were two or three USAFE chiefs who were very disappointed by my selection as they coveted the position.

- Another point of interest. I commuted between Wiesbaden and Ramstein for about two months awaiting on-base housing at Ramstein. When General Jones found out I was on a long waiting list for available housing, he declared my position "key personnel" and my family moved into base housing within a couple of days.


-My initial emphasis as USAFE Senior Enlisted Advisor was to help facilitate the head- quarters relocation to Ramstein Air Base. There were many issues to resolve including housing, dependent schools, office space, and informing all involved as to the reasons for moving the headquarters. The majority of the troops were very unhappy.

- USAFE as a Command was much larger than it is now--here are the USAFE bases in 1973:

Germany: Ramstein, Wiesbaden, Sembach, Bitburg, Hahn, Zweibrucken, Tempelhof, Rhein-Main, and many small sites
United Kingdom: Mildenhall, Lakenheath, Upper Heyford, Bentwaters, Woodbridge, Alconbury, Croughton, Chicksands, and many small sites
Spain: Torrejon, Zaragosa, Moron
Italy: Aviano, Brindisi, plus many small sites
Holland: Soesterberg
Greece: Athens plus small sites

- With my background and expertise in leadership/management instruction, I traveled throughout USAFE approximately 75 percent of the time "spreading the word" to Enlisted audiences and speaking at formal ceremonies and other events. My wife, Selma, accompanied me frequently and met with spouse and family groups to hear their concerns. We stayed very busy.

- The racial scene in the Air Force in the early seventies was both vocal and turbulent, an extension of the social unrest in American society at that time. Racial incidents on and off base were common, some erupting into serious episodes. Several senior USAFE officers in Command positions were relieved of duty because of their inability to handle these incidents. Each of us in visible Command positions were challenged to address this matter. At each base, I met with both separate and racially mixed Airmen groups in an effort to open lines of communication so that true equal opportunity could be achieved. We were dealing with both fact, perception, and misperception. The main symbol of the era was HAIR--both facial and atop the head. HAIR was probably the number one item of discussion throughout the Command. It was truly a HAIRY decade.

- In 1973, General Jones lured a noted educator, Dr. Gregg, away from Air University at Maxwell AFB to HQ USAFE to establish formal leadership development programs throughout USAFE. Dr. Gregg initiated courses for Wing/Base/Squadron Commanders, encouraged off-duty education, and took early steps that led to the eventual opening of the USAFE NCO Academy in 1976. I worked very closely with Dr. Gregg on an ongoing basis by emphasizing effective enlisted leadership. At that time, there were no Airmen Leader- ship Schools in USAFE. We were on the cutting edge of Enlisted PME as it exists today.

- Nine months after I became the USAFE Senior Enlisted Advisor in August, 1973, General Jones was selected to be Chief of Staff, USAF, in May, 1974. He departed USAFE in June and was succeeded by General John Vogt. I have great memories and full pride of my contributions to the Command, primarily in all areas of Enlisted enlightenment and education. General Jones' vision and brilliance in leading the Command in difficult times are what led to his selection as USAF Chief of Staff and in 1978, being appointed Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. CMSgt Jackson L. Davidson replaced me as the Enlisted Advisor in August, 1974.

- From 1974 - 1977, I served the Air Force as a traveling leadership instructor out of Randolph AFB. General Jones tasked me to do throughout the total Air Force what basically I had done in USAFE. As a result of my one-man act, the leadership development center at Maxwell AFB was created in 1976, the forerunner of all modern PME.

- On 1 August 1977 I was selected to serve as the 5th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. I retired from the Air Force in August, 1979.

Current Air Force Involvement:

"I threw my hat back in the Air Force ring in 1996 and now average 30 - 40 base visits annually. My favorite topics are still leadership, management, motivation, professionalism and Airmanship." Chief Gaylor said.

CMSAF Gaylor Chatting with AirmenChief Gaylor with fellow CMSAF's Benken, Campanale, Pfingston, Airey, McCoy, Parish and Finch(Left) Chief Gaylor (5th from left) with fellow CMSAF's Benken, Campanale, Pfingston, Airey, McCoy, Parish and Finch in August 2005. (Top Right) Chatting with Airmen at AETC Commander's Fiesta Randolph AFB, TX in April 2009. (Bottom Right) Speaking at the Air Force's 60th Anniversary Ball, Hill AFB, September 2007.CMSAF Gaylor speaking at the Air Force's 60th Anniversary Ball