173rd Fighter Wing Members Reach Pinnacle of Enlisted Ranks

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
  • 173rd Fighter Wing
Kingsley Field has added two more personnel to the top Air Force enlisted rank. Senior Master Sgts. James Dean and Todd Berndt were promoted to chief master sergeant in a pinning ceremony at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., Feb. 5, 2011.

During the ceremony, Oregon Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Steven Gregg reminded the newly pinned chiefs it was their responsibility to "set the standard."

"Mentor your people. Prepare them for the future," Gregg advised both Berndt and Dean during the ceremony.

Chief Dean is the 173rd Fighter Wing Weapons Element Flight Chief and weapons manager. He is responsible for the leadership, supervision and training of 39 assigned personnel within the weapons element; he is the wing's subject matter expert and focal point for all weapons loading and armament systems related matters for the wing. Dean advises commanders on regulations concerning any aircraft weapons related issues and has guided the wing through two major aircraft weapon changes.

Dean's goals as senior enlisted leader focus on building stronger relationships within the 173rd Fighter Wing. He hopes "to help foster strong working relationships, pride in what we do and a true spirit of family. I want to help work on building stronger traditions here at Kingsley and preserve them so our younger troops will carry them on into the future."

Dean began his career in the United States Navy as an F-14 (Tomcat) egress and environmental systems specialist. After spending approximately five years in the Navy, he separated and joined the Oregon Air National Guard as an F-4 crew chief. Dean has held multiple maintenance positions at Kingsley Field over the past 24.5 years.

Reflecting on his career, Dean offered his counsel to those who aspire to follow in his footsteps.

"Attitude is everything; remember the first week you came to Kingsley and that attitude you had about Kingsley? When you start feeling that things might not be going exactly the way you think they should, reflect back upon that first week and carry that positive attitude with you always. Kingsley is what each person makes it out to be, and it all starts within ourselves and the attitude we project."

Berndt added, "Never give up; never turn down an opportunity to grow. By this, never turn down a school or the opportunity to coordinate unit functions. Be willing to move to other sections or jobs, this will give you the ability to see different perspective. Always enjoy the experience."

Chief Berndt is currently assigned as the chief of plans and resources in the 173rd Communications Flight. He is responsible for overseeing the information technology and telecommunications programs. Berndt oversees the interpretation and development of policy for administrating the IT and communications system located on Kingsley Field.

"I feel honored. I have, over my career, worked with many outstanding chiefs throughout the Air National Guard.   Now being a chief, I feel the weight of carrying on the great legacy of the Chief's Creed is very humbling," he said.

Berndt has spent his career with Oregon ANG, joining the 116th Air Control Squadron in 1985. After spending five years with the 116th, Berndt transferred to the 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland, Ore.   He worked in the 142nd Fighter Wing Communications Flight in various positions until he joined the 173rd Communications Flight at Kingsley Field in 2009.

Berndt is an active member of his community. He has volunteered for many organizations including Camp Rosenbaum, the United Way and many other local associations. He has received the United Way community Leadership Award for his exemplary leadership and commitment in determining how best to allocate United Way campaign contribution to help the people of Klamath county.