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Retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley speaks with Airmen assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 23, 2018. During his visit, McKinley spoke during an all call, visited Airmen from one of his former career fields and welcomed Ellsworth AFB’s newest chief master sergeants during a chief master sergeant induction ceremony.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Randahl J. Jenson

Retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley visited Ellsworth Air Force Base March 23.

McKinley shared insight and history during an all call, met with Airmen from one of his former career fields and attended Ellsworth AFB’s Chief Master Sergeant Induction ceremony.

“It’s been a great experience coming here to visit the Airmen of the 28th Bomb Wing,” McKinley said. “I’ve met so many great Airmen who are happy to be here. They’re dedicated to the mission of what this great Air Force base has to offer for the Air Force and our nation.”

After the all call, McKinley visited the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

“I was an aircraft maintainer and I’m very proud of that,” McKinley said. “I look forward to getting back and seeing the B-1 again.”

McKinley started his Air Force career in July 1974 as an emergency room technician. He separated in August 1977, but rejoined five years later as a dedicated crew chief. Eventually, McKinley served as a first sergeant and chief master sergeant of the Air Force.

“As our 15th chief master sergeant of the Air Force, he represented the highest enlisted level of leadership,” said 28th Bomb Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Adam Vizi. “In this capacity he was responsible for the enlisted corps and represented our interests to the public and all levels of government.”

As the first chief master sergeant of the Air Force to have a master’s degree, McKinley encouraged Airmen to complete their Community College of the Air Force degrees among other professional development initiatives. He pressed for physical training reforms, increased benefits and worked with Airmen and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Michael T. Moseley to create the official Airman’s Creed on April 18, 2007.

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“That was the day that our Airman’s Creed was born,” McKinley said. “People ask me all the time: ‘who wrote the Airman’s Creed?’ Airmen wrote the Airman’s Creed. It’s not me, it’s not General Moseley. Airmen wrote the Airman’s Creed and it’s important to all of us.”

McKinley concluded his visit by speaking at the induction ceremony where he welcomed Ellsworth’s newest chief master sergeants.

“It’s been a wonderful visit,” he said. “I’m super impressed with all the leadership. Caring for people is about something from the heart.”

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