Doing things the ‘Wright’ way – CMSAF Wright mentors Airmen at Los Angeles Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Richard D. Lewis
  • SMC Public Affairs

The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) welcomed Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright during a visit Sept. 26, 2019. Enlisted, officer and civilian Airmen came together at Los Angeles Air Force Base to hear what the Air Force’s senior enlisted leader had to share.


“I’ve come to the conclusion that our Airmen, they really are a national treasure,” said Wright. “And we should treat them as such. We should treat each other as such.”


Wright is the 18th Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force appointed to the highest noncommissioned officer position. He serves as the personal adviser to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force on all issues regarding the welfare, readiness, morale and proper utilization and progress of over 400,000 enlisted people.

“I happen to believe the success of our United States Air Force is more closely tied to the human domain,” said Wright.

The chief is working on getting after new initiatives for Airmen like special bereavement leave, indefinite enlistment career status program and modifying the PT test, as well as eliminating the weighted airmen promotion system testing.

He also addressed the recent spike in suicides across the Air Force and says it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to reach out to each other and take care of our fellow wingmen.

“We make time for what we believe is important. I would encourage leaders at all levels to make time connecting, spending time with your Airmen,” said Wright.

Although the chief says leadership matters, he says you cannot expect leaders to sprinkle magic dust to change the culture. It starts with each individual.

“Being in the Air Force is very demanding. We all make time for what’s important,” said Wright.

SMC commander, Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson said he was touched by what Wright had to say.

“Just like the chief said here, the mission drives the urgent, and maybe not always the important. So we need to think about what’s the important and not the urgent so much, and take the time for what’s important,” said Thompson.

While at LA Air Force Base, Wright enjoyed a full schedule. He dined with junior Airmen at breakfast, hosted a luncheon with our NCOs and an evening social with the senior NCOs. During the day he participated in an office call with Lt. Gen. Thompson and received an SMC overview briefing. CMSAF Wright toured the installation, taking time to meet and greet Airmen of SMC and the 61st Air Base Group, with stops at the command post, medical group, civil engineering and the Force Support Squadron. Chief Wright also did an SMC mission area walk through and  conducted an “Airmen Everywhere” talk at the base.


“He is terrific, he is amazing and he wanted to take time to talk to people,” said Pam Taylor, protocol officer. “How special it is he came to visit LA. It was an amazing opportunity.”


One of the people who met with CMSAF Wright was former SMC officer, retired Maj. Katherine “Kat” Portillo, a wounded warrior.


“With the challenges we all face, it’s critical to remember what’s most important, the Airman,” said Portillo, who agrees with CMSAF Wright. “I believe the best way to show people love is by giving them your time.”

Portillo also referenced a quote from a member of Chief Wright’s staff, CMSgt Manny Piñeiro, his special duty manager for first sergeants.

“CMSgt Piñeiro’s motto, ‘Don’t count time, make time count’ should be at the forefront of every Airman’s thought process; to build a strong bond amongst each other and be the resilient Airmen needed to execute our mission,” said Portillo.

It was a quick visit for Wright, who is making his rounds touring other installations, like Vandenberg Air Force Base the day before. The Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force has a busy schedule, traveling the majority of the year.


Thompson says he was honored the chief took time to visit us here at SMC.


“Thank you for honoring us with your presence. Thank you for spending one of those 290 days you spend on the road with the folks at the space and missile systems center,” said Thompson.