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Hometown Airmen rises to top wing enlisted career

U.S. Air Force Col. Kirk Pierce, 173rd Fighter Wing Commander, passes the guideon to Chief Master Sgt. Mark McDaniel during a change of authority ceremony at Kingsley Field, Ore. Aug. 2, 2015.  McDaniel takes over as the top enlisted advisor for the 173rd FW from Chief Master Sgt. Danny Ross who served as the command chief since 2012.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Kirk Pierce, 173rd Fighter Wing Commander, passes the guideon to Chief Master Sgt. Mark McDaniel during a change of authority ceremony at Kingsley Field, Ore. Aug. 2, 2015. McDaniel takes over as the top enlisted advisor for the 173rd FW from Chief Master Sgt. Danny Ross who served as the command chief since 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mark McDaniel, 173rd Fighter Wing Command Chief, speaks to the crowd during a change of authority ceremony at Kingsley Field, Ore. Aug. 2, 2015.  McDaniel takes over as the top enlisted advisor for the 173rd FW from Chief Master Sgt. Danny Ross who served as the command chief since 2012.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mark McDaniel, 173rd Fighter Wing Command Chief, speaks to the crowd during a change of authority ceremony at Kingsley Field, Ore. Aug. 2, 2015. McDaniel takes over as the top enlisted advisor for the 173rd FW from Chief Master Sgt. Danny Ross who served as the command chief since 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

KINGSLEY FIELD Ore. -- The 173rd Fighter Wing welcomed a new command chief, Aug. 2, 2015. During the official change of authority ceremony Chief Master Sgt. Danny Ross passed the reigns to Chief Master Sgt. Mark McDaniel.

McDaniel is a familiar face around Kingsley Field, having served here since 1999.  However, many of the Airmen on base may not know his story.

McDaniel grew up in Klamath Falls, graduating from Klamath Union High School in 1979.  He married his high school sweetheart, Jeanie, and decided to join the Active Duty Air Force.

"When I was seventeen I didn't see a lot of great options, so I thought the military would be the best opportunity for me," said McDaniel.  "Plus the family heritage drew me to the Air Force."

McDaniel's father served in the Air Force in the Red Horse Squadron during Vietnam and was even stationed at Kingsley Field at one point his career.  The Air Force heritage continues on down the line in the McDaniel family.  Two of his sons are in the Air Force - Andrew is an airmen first class at Wright Patterson AFB and Eric is a captain here at Kingsley Field.   His son-in-law and nephew are also stationed at Kingsley.  "We're a big part of the Kingsley family," McDaniel said with a laugh. 

While on active duty, he started his career as a corrosion control specialist and worked his way through the ranks in that career field.  However, an opportunity for a career change presented itself and he moved over as the non-commissioned officer in charge of the dental technician section.  After twelve years on Active Duty, McDaniel decided it was time to leave the Air Force and entered civilian life.

"I was a general manager for a health and fitness club," he said with a grin.  "You know, there was a lot more to that job than most people think.  I was responsible for managing multiple employees as well as marketing the club.  I learned a lot from it."

In 1999 he and his wife decided it was time to come home.  With their four kids in tow, they moved back to Klamath Falls when Jeanie was offered a position with the local Pepsi distributor.  That's when McDaniel decided to return to the military life after seven years and joined the Oregon Air National Guard.

"I started as a drill status guardsman in the sheet metal shop.  They immediately put me on AT days and then I was hired on a temp tour for a year; after that they hired me on full time," said McDaniel.  "I could have never imagined it would work out like that, but I am thankful it did."

McDaniel eventually moved over to the logistics readiness squadron where he worked in the Hazmat Pharmacy, then CSSM/MICAP where he processed the maintenance supply and equipment requests, and eventually he was hired as the warehouse superintendent.  From there he moved on to become the operations group superintendent.

"I couldn't forecast out as a staff sergeant in sheet metal that I would some-day end up where I am today.  And I wouldn't be where I am with the great mentors and wingmen, both officer and enlisted, that supported me through my career," he said.
McDaniel also credits his wife of thirty-five years for his success.  "She is the main reason I am here.  I couldn't do it without her."

When asked what one piece of advice he would offer the junior enlisted, McDaniel was quick to answer.  "Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions.  Communicate."

With communication in mind, McDaniel says that one of his top priorities as the command chief is to develop the Airmen below him.  "We need to take care of our Airmen and make sure they have the tools they need to succeed through force development, mentorship, and education.  One of my goals is to carry on and build upon the fantastic programs Chief Ross helped create during his time as command chief.  He did an amazing job with our CCAF program, and I want to thank him for it."

McDaniel says another priority for him as the command chief is to develop the relationship between the Active Duty and Guard here at Kingsley Field.  "With our total force integration I see a great opportunity for both cultures to learn from one another.  We are one team, one fight.  The uniform doesn't distinguish between Guard and Active Duty, and I want to see us meld our cultures together as we move forward and make the mission happen."