AFRC Command Chief returns to Luke
By Tech. Sgt. Nestor Cruz, 944 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 14, 2017
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The Air Force Reserve Command’s top enlisted Airman came back for a brief visit to where her career started nearly three decades ago.
Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly, AFRC command chief, visited Luke’s Reserve Citizen Airmen during the September unit training assembly to find out what their concerns are and offer guidance on achieving their career goals.
During her visit, Kelly had breakfast with junior enlisted Airmen, welcomed newcomers to the wing, toured various units across the wing and had lunch with non-commissioned officers.
“It’s important to me to go beyond simple meet-and-greets,” Kelly told the Airmen she visited. “I want to spend quality time with you and connect with you.”
Part of making that connection was sharing the command chief’s “core” or who she is as a person. Kelly shared with Airmen her background as a member of law enforcement, her journey from Guatemala to the United States and her role as a single mother.
When asked about the challenges she faced as a woman in the Air Force, Kelly gave a simple yet powerful answer.
“I am an Airman first,” Kelly said. “Don’t let your gender or ethnicity define who you are. Let your actions do that for you.”
Kelly’s genuine personality and sincere concern for her Airmen was felt by those she met during the visit.
“Chief Kelly has such a warm and contagious personality that brings to surface questions about one's own leadership and readiness skills,” said Master Sgt. Maria Guillen, 944th Fighter Wing Yellow Ribbon Program representative. “As I looked around the room, I could clearly see her speech was not only being heard but I could also see the wheels turning in people’s heads and they’re thinking how and where can we be better.”
Kelly stressed to Luke Airmen the importance of taking care of others and taking ownership of one’s career.
“Don’t chase the stripe, but rather prepare for the next one,” she said. “I progressed through the ranks not because I chased the stripe but because the stripe caught up with me.”