Taking care of Airmen and the profession of arms – a command chief’s legacy

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Chief Master Sgt. Mark McDaniel has served as the 173rd Fighter Wing Command Chief since 2015, and is preparing to step into a new position after his selection as the Oregon Air National Guard Command Chief.


As the State Command Chief, McDaniel will be assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters in Salem, Ore., and will serve as the personal adviser to the Oregon Air National Guard Commander, Brig. Gen. James Kriesel, on all issues regarding the welfare, readiness, morale, and proper utilization and progress of the enlisted force. McDaniel will be the ranking enlisted leader in the Oregon Air National Guard.


“It is very humbling,” says McDaniel. He adds that this opportunity is an accumulation of the experiences he has had since joining the Active Duty Air Force in 1980.


McDaniel began his career as a corrosion control specialist, and performed that job for 10 years before switching career fields and becoming a dental manager at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.  In 1992, McDaniel decided to leave the Air Force and pursue a civilian career. Five years later, he returned to the service joining the Oregon Air National Guard as a structural repair technician with the 173rd Fighter Wing. 


“We came home,” McDaniel notes, having grown up in Klamath Falls and graduating from Klamath Union High School. 


During his 19 years with the 173rd Fighter Wing, McDaniel has held multiple positions including hazmat supply manager, maintenance support section supervisor, material management flight superintendent, logistics readiness squadron superintendent, operations group superintendent, and finally his current position as the wing command chief.


“I am just a product of Kingsley Field,” says McDaniel crediting the Airmen of the wing for his successes.  “Having outstanding Airmen in our organization allows us to be who we are.  You take care of them, they will take care of you and this is an accumulation of that.”


McDaniel says he has had many people help shape and develop him to where he is today. “Everything we do is based on lessons we learn through experiences,” he adds.


“One of my first supervisors back in the 1980s was an old master sergeant … he was tough, but he taught me some valuable lessons,” says McDaniel with a laugh.


McDaniel relates one of those lessons he says he takes with him every day. When he first assumed the rank staff sergeant his supervisor explained that as a non-commissioned officer he was now responsible for the junior Airmen in the paint shop. McDaniel relates that he was full of bravado and whole-heartedly agreed to take on this responsibility. 


A few weeks later, McDaniel’s supervisor pulled him back into his office and reminded him of their previous conversation.


“Yes, Sir, I remember,” he said. The supervisor then asked him if he was aware of the trouble one of the junior Airman in the shop had found himself him.  He was, but unsure where the conversation was headed. That was when his supervisor presented him with a letter of counseling.


“I said, ‘I didn’t do anything!’” To which my supervisor answered, ‘Exactly,’” says McDaniel.  McDaniel says this taught him the importance of taking care of the Airmen below him always.

And that is exactly what McDaniel hopes to continue in his new position.


McDaniel says he been formulating goals for his role as the State Command Chief.


Relationship building is his first focus. He notes that he would like to help educate the Airmen of both the 173rd and 142nd Fighter Wings on the difference of cultures and missions between the two wings. “Our missions are different, our templates are different, our manning documents are different ... I want to help educate each other on what those differences are and how we can better work together as a team.”


His second goal focusses on emphasizing what it means to be in the profession of arms. 


“Sometimes I think we focus too much on trying to be like a corporate entity,” he said. “We can definitely learn from the civilian sector, but we need to make sure we are careful to not cross that line and forget what it really means to be in the profession of arms.” 


McDaniel assures us that he will never forget Kingsley Field and the experiences that have shaped him. He notes a few areas that make Kingsley Field unique to him.


“You live the concept of the Wingman … you actually put a verb connotation to the core values,” says McDaniel.  “And our amazing community support.”


McDaniel says this next position is the “last adventure in our military career” noting the team effort with his wife, Jeannie, of 38 years.


“I’m the luckiest guy,” says McDaniel.  “I get a chance to continue to take care of Airmen…and I don’t take a day for granted, my wife and I never do.”