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Chief Roy explains his road to CMSAF

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- After completing high school, there wasn't much happening in Monroe, Mich., in 1982 for James A. Roy. He wanted to do something with his life where he could get some training and an education. He wanted to do something that wasn't what everyone else was doing.

He enlisted as an airman basic in September 1982, and today, nearly 27 years later, he is the 16th chief master sergeant of the Air Force.

"I wanted to do something I enjoy," Chief Roy said. "I was looking for something different than the status quo, something different from car manufacturing."

Chief Roy said he entered the Air Force with the idea of serving four years and doing the best he could in that time, both for himself and for the Air Force. He said he wasn't thinking about a long-term career at the time.

"I came into the Air Force looking for an education and to learn a skill," Chief Roy said.

Chief Roy's Air Force career path took him down a road similar to most enlisted Airmen. After Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, he went to technical training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. There he learned to operate heavy construction equipment in a joint training environment.

Tech. Sgt. Nathan Heard, since retired, was Chief Roy's supervisor and a big influence on Chief Roy early in his career.

Sergeant Heard "made an indelible impression early in my career," Chief Roy said. "He reinforced the standards that were taught to me in the beginning."

Chief Roy said Sergeant Heard allowed him a month to finish his career development course -- not a month and a day.

At the end of that month, Chief Roy said he knew he had to be finished with his CDC's.

"I had to be finished with a certain volume at a certain time. I didn't want to disappoint Sergeant Heard, that's how much respect I had for this man," Chief Roy said. "He taught me what it was to be a leader and about taking care of people."

Chief Roy took advantage of the education the Air Force offered and was the first in his family to earn a college degree.

"It's never been done before in my family," Chief Roy said. "The Air Force gave me the opportunity to not just look at my training, but also education -- it's part of the whole-person concept."

Chief Roy said he places high priority on care of Airmen and their families. He said he wants to continue to improve training and education for enlisted Airmen as well as the health and well-being of them and their families.

"Families are a huge factor in an Airman's career, so we need to ask ourselves, 'How do we help develop them as well? How do we better involve families in this profession of ours?' I believe helping them with their education is part of their development," Chief Roy said.

Chief Roy said his wife, Paula, takes an active role in his career.

"I married Miss Paula right out of high school. She has been with me the entire time," he said. "She's interested in trying to see how we can better educate ourselves; how we can continue to care for family members. She considers this our profession: the United States military."

Chief Roy said his own family is involved in his career, and he can't overemphasize the family aspect of being an Airman.

"I've been able to stay energized because it's been noteworthy and fun for the family," Chief Roy said. "I can tell you, communication is key to a military family's success. We have to keep our families informed so they can be active participants in, and supporters of, all we do."

Chief Roy said not to worry about putting on rank or gathering awards, and that doing one's best is more important.

"Just be the best Airman you can," Chief Roy said. "Regardless of what job you have or where you are, just be the best Airman you can, and you will be recognized for that."