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AMC commander receives Order of the Sword

  • Published
  • By Capt. Bob Everdeen
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Arriving at the Scott Club in a horse-drawn carriage while a bagpipe melody filled the air, Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Arthur J. Lichte and his wife Chris were about to become a part of military history.

The carriage ride, which arrived under security forces escort, was just the start of a rich military tradition where the enlisted men and women of Air Mobility Command bestowed the high honor of Order of the Sword to General Lichte on Aug. 14.

The event, which draws its customs from a Middle Ages ceremony, recognized General Lichte for his leadership at AMC since his arrival here nearly two years ago. It was a ceremony that saw enlisted Airmen donning full mess dress to honor their leader in the finest of traditions.

AMC Command Chief Master Sgt. Joe Barron notified General Lichte of the nomination in April. As chairman of the Order of the Sword committee, Chief Barron said the primary reason the General was chosen for the award is because he is a "leader among leaders and an Airman among Airmen."

"I cannot think of a leader more deserving of this recognition," Chief Barron said.

General Lichte said he didn't learn or build his Air Force career just from professional military education or books, he said he learned from the enlisted core.

"(Learning) happens when the chief comes in and closes the door and tells me what needs to be done," General Lichte said. "It's when NCOs shoulder the load of the Air Force and when I look into the eyes of Airmen and see the pulse of the U.S. Air Force."

General Lichte cited many examples of enlisted leadership and the inspiration and education it has provided him. He said it was an Air Force sergeant who encouraged him to join the Air Force. He also highlighted an Airman who was a boom operator and refueled the planes with enthusiasm during his early days at Plattsburgh AFB, NY; and he singled-out an NCO from Maintenance who worked on those aircraft throughout the night showing tremendous dedication and professionalism.

"When I was the vice commander for the United States Air Forces in Europe, every other country wanted to be like the United States Air Force," General Lichte said. "They wanted to come and train with us. They wanted to come to our professional military education...they wanted a professional enlisted corps.

"I learned that lesson again just a few weeks ago at RODEO when I met the Afghanistan Air Force Chief of Staff," General Lichte added. "He was not impressed by the aircraft, tactics or techniques, but the Airmen. It is this fantastic force that gives us a competitive military advantage."

The competitive advantage of any military, General Lichte said, has always been and always will be the enlisted force.

"There is no doubt about it, you -- our enlisted force - are the greatest asymmetrical advantage we could possibly have," he said. "That's not just for our Air Force, but for our nation."

General Lichte was honored with several mementos depicting a sword -- the symbol of truth, justice and power rightfully used -- during the Order of the Sword ceremony. The ceremony has evolved since its first rituals in the early 1500s when it was known as the (British) Royal Order of the Sword and the Swedish Military Order of the Sword. In all cases, the reason for the program is the same: for enlisted military people to honor and recognize individuals they hold in high esteem who have made significant contributions to the enlisted force.

In his closing remarks, General Lichte said he won't forget the Airmen of AMC and the Air Force for all of their contributions.

"As you live out your Air Force careers, do so in knowing that the world is watching you, our nation is watching you, and I will still be watching you," he said. "You are fantastic people."