Goodfellow welcomes Chief Ricker

Chief Master Sgt. Frederick Ricker, 17th Training Wing command chief master sergeant, mentors Airman First Class Andrew Hodges, 17th Communications Squadron, a member of the current First Term Airman Center class at Goodfellow Air Force Base, over coffee during the FTAC class's visit Thursday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1815 in San Angelo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

Chief Master Sgt. Frederick Ricker, 17th Training Wing command chief master sergeant, mentors Airman First Class Andrew Hodges, 17th Communications Squadron, a member of the current First Term Airman Center class at Goodfellow Air Force Base, over coffee during the FTAC class's visit Thursday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1815 in San Angelo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- He's been seen around Goodfellow in the past month: the new chief master sergeant with the second star - the 17th Training Wing command chief master sergeant.

Chief Master Sgt. Frederick Ricker said his job is "to make sure every Airman, whether enlisted, officer or civilian, understands the commander's intent and vision." Additionally, a command chief's job is to serve as a senior advisor to the commander on all enlisted matters.

"A command chief is more than just a morale and welfare senior noncommissioned officer," Chief Ricker said. "We have to be in tune with operations to balance the 'taking care of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines' aspects of the job, in order to break down the barriers to our Airmen's focus on the job and taking care of their families," the chief added. "I work for the commander, but I also work for the Airmen."

Chief Ricker's focus for Goodfellow is driven by the goal set down by Col. Richard Ayres, 17th Training Wing commander: to make this base the agile joint center of excellence for firefighters, intelligence and SPINSTRA.

"Being 'agile' means adaptability," Chief Ricker said. "It means taking the latest and greatest tactics, training and procedures from the field and bringing them back to train."

Among the tasks to which adaptability may be applied is the "Back to Basics" plan set out by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Chief Ricker sees it as refocusing our Air Force processes back to the structure which once pervaded the Air Force.

"We need to get back to the basics of getting the job done, and done the right way," Chief Ricker said. "It's a mindset. Most Airmen want to be given guidance to do the job right." The command chief added that structured guidance allows Airmen to do their jobs with less intrusive supervision.

"Trust your people and treat them well," Chief Ricker said. "Let them do their job, and they'll perform. Then you recognize them." The chief said this was a lesson imparted to him by Brig. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, one of several lessons learned over the course of the chief's career.

"More than a few people have helped me, and these lessons are a snapshot in time," Chief Ricker said. Because of them, he will always remember the people, like retired Lt. Col. Tom Burriss, who taught him about professionalism by treating him with the same respect afforded senior leaders.

As a master sergeant, two moments remind him of one lesson. Shino Fukunaga, a secretary at Pacific Air Forces, and retired Chief Master Sgt. Stan Sanders, who reminded then-Master Sgt. Ricker that he was "here to serve."

Service to the Air Force goes hand in hand with service to community, Chief Ricker said, and volunteerism to the base and local community is an important part of being not just an Airman, but an American.

"Inside the gate, we're Airmen helping Airmen," Chief Ricker said. "Outside, it's Americans helping Americans." While competence at an Airman's primary AFSC is important, getting out into the community and staying involved helps Airmen become "bigger than your badge." Working together, said the chief, fosters teamwork - which helps with a warrior mindset.

"Being a warrior is a mental state," Chief Ricker said. "It's about having the mindset, having the training and wherewithal to go where you're needed, even if you're not on the 'bombs and bullets' side of the house."

One of the plans the command chief wants to bring to Goodfellow is the knowledge of how each Airman contributes to the overall fight.

"A lot of our Airmen don't understand what they bring to the fight - how what you do impacts Goodfellow and the Air Force as a whole," Chief Ricker said. When Airmen understand their contributions, they'll begin to think of themselves as warriors.

"To be an Airman is to be a warrior," Chief Ricker said. "The moment you stop thinking of yourself as a warrior, you might as well find another calling. That's who we are and what we do."