Paul W. Airey

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Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Paul Wesley Airey
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Paul Wesley Airey
1st Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (1967-1969)
Born (1923-12-13)December 13, 1923
Flag of Massachusetts.svg Quincy, Massachusetts
Died March 11, 2009(2009-03-11) (aged 85)
Flag of Florida.svg Panama City, Florida
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States
Service/branch
Years of service 1942 – 1970 (27 years)
Rank
Battles/wars
Awards See below

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Paul Wesley Airey (December 13, 1923 – March 11, 2009) was adviser to Secretary of the Air Force Richard Campbell and Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell. He was the first Chief Master Sergeant appointed to this ultimate noncommissioned officer position and was selected from among 21 major command (MAJCOM) nominees to become the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. He was formally installed by Gen McConnell on 3 April 1967.

Military career[edit]

The Chief was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He entered military service after two years of high school in Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1948 he obtained his high school equivalency certificate, and later completed 62 semester hours of study at McKendree College, Lebanon, Illinois. His military schooling has included courses in communication mechanics and personnel management. He is a graduate of the Air Defense Command Noncommissioned Officer Academy. The academy was renamed the Paul W. Airey NCO Academy on December 13, 2006, in his honor.[1]

Chief Airey spent much of his 27-year career as a First Sergeant. During World War II, however, he served as an aerial gunner on B-24 bombers, and is credited with 28 combat missions in Europe. After he was forced to bail out of his flak-damaged aircraft, he was captured and became a prisoner of war in Germany from July 1944 to May 1945. During the Korean conflict, he was awarded the Legion of Merit while assigned at Naha Air Base, Okinawa. The award, an uncommon decoration for an enlisted man, was earned for creating a means of constructing equipment from salvaged parts that improved corrosion control of sensitive radio and radar components.

Before he became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, he was assigned to the Air Defense Command's 4756th Civil Engineering Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, where he was the unit's First Sergeant. He retired Aug. 1, 1970. Chief Airey died in Panama City, Florida. on March 11, 2009.

Awards and decorations[edit]

United States Air Force Enlisted Aircrew Badge.svg US Air Force Enlisted Aircrew Badge
Personal decorations
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with a pair of width-2 white stripes on the edges
Legion of Merit with bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with two width-8 white stripes at distance 4 from the edges. Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
Unit awards
Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Service awards
Prisoner of War Medal
Air Force Good Conduct Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
Campaign and service medals
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze service stars
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Korean Service Medal
Service, training, and marksmanship awards
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with four bronze oak leaf clusters
NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
Foreign awards
United Nations Service Medal for Korea

Professional memberships and associations[edit]

Effective dates of promotion[edit]

Promotions
Rank Date
E9 USAF CMSAF 1967-1991.png Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force April 3, 1967

Succession[edit]

Military offices
New title Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
1967 – 1969
Succeeded by
Donald L. Harlow

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Paul W. Airey NCO Academy". Air Combat Command. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force document "Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Paul W. Airey biography".