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A new Command Chief plants his feet firmly at 12th Air Force

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia Jr., 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief, talks about his new role as the 12th Air Force senior enlisted adviser on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 22, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Koenig/Released).

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia Jr., 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief, talks about his new role as the 12th Air Force senior enlisted adviser on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 22, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Koenig/Released).

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- A new command chief has stepped into the role of senior enlisted adviser at 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).

Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia Jr. is charged with advising the commander on all issues regarding the health, welfare, morale and effective utilization of assigned enlisted personnel. He's also responsible for ensuring the readiness of 10 active duty wings and one direct reporting unit for contingency operations, overseeing 20 gained Air Reserve Component units, and employing 17 airframes totaling more than 840 combat aircraft with more than 62,000 Airmen.

Tapia joined the Air Force in 1985 as a personnel specialist, and at the time he had no plans to take on the responsibility of becoming a command chief master sergeant (formerly a senior enlisted adviser).

"The only thing I was worried about was graduating from basic training and staying out of trouble," Tapia said. "Back then you didn't see many chiefs just walking around and if you did you walked the other direction, and you'd be kidding yourself to ever think that you'd ever be at that level."

But, he ultimately became a chief and then a command chief through hard work and determination. He attributes his success to just taking it day-by-day and striving to do the best that you can each day in your current position. Tapia's recipe for success comes down to taking care of Airmen, doing what is asked of you, having a passion for what you do and being professional at all times.

"I'm passionate about what I do," he said. "I'm passionate about not just being a command chief, but being a professional Airman in the United States Air Force. I hope that when people come in contact with me that they're impacted in a positive way and I come across as pleasant, respectful, technically competent and professional in every sense of the word."

He challenges Airmen to think back to Basic Training, to the care and attention to detail they put into what they looked like and what kind of image they were presenting.

"Sometimes we have to go back to our roots," he said. "We have to go back and remember what it was like to make that incredible transition on the parade field from Basic Training Trainee to United States Air Force Airman and to let 'feeling' influence the way we do things now."

As for his new position, Tapia is excited about taking on new challenges and impacting Airmen in a positive way and impresses upon Airmen the importance of having faith in their leaders because leadership will "do right for them."

"This position is an honor for me that I don't take lightly," he said. "I can't think of a better place that I'd rather be right now."

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