EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska - Every airman has a story to tell. The journey they take and the people they meet along the way molds them into whom they ultimately become.
Chief Master Sgt. Alex del Valle, 354th Operations Group superintendent, was recently selected to be the new command chief at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. He now looks back at the long road behind him, reflecting on how far he has come and thankful for having the necessary experiences to help him succeed at his next assignment.
del Valle's days of basic training left him with the enthusiasm to one day become the chief master sergeant of the Air Force. He had a fire within him to be a better Airman, he said.
Upon arriving at his first duty station, del Valle's fire within diminished for a short period of time. He settled into the routine of becoming an Airman and going through the day-to-day processes of his job as an air traffic controller.
"I probably wasn't the best airman that I could have been, but I lost sight of the name that is over my left pocket and I got a little bit more wrapped up in the name that is on the right-hand side -- me," del Valle explained.
It was not until he became a technical sergeant-select at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., that del Valle learned more about his roots as an airman. There, he met Senior Master Sgt. Charlie Stickle, who worked him hard and taught him more about the core values and what they meant.
"It faded in slowly," said del Valle. "Seeing those guys in action made me think that's what I want to be."
Eventually, del Valle again expressed thoughts of becoming a chief master sergeant at some point in his career. Soon after, his wife asked him why he should stop there.
del Valle's wife said he needed to be a command chief because that is the type of person he is.
del Valle did not do anything specific to prepare for a command chief. Instead, he did the best and as much as he could for his Airmen at any given time.
He explained to prepare oneself for any position is to learn at each enlisted tier.
"Learn to be an airman first. Learn to be an NCO. Learn to be a senior NCO. Learn those pieces before you can move up the ladder," said del Valle. "It's not to say 'do not have goals and not to look forward,' but don't miss something along the way."
Throughout del Valle's career thus far, he has encouraged and inspired Airmen of all ranks to be an all-around airman.
"People need to remember in the fog of the daily grind of why they are here," said del Valle.
Knowing the impact each airman has on the overall mission is critical in the development of every Airman, del Valle said. Every mission, no matter the size, affects another Airman's job on some level.
"He is a 360-degree airman," said Master Sgt. Anthony Floyd, 354th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. "He helped mentor me to make me want to be a chief one day, so he has helped me get to that next level."
del Valle communicated that knowing the mission, being committed and how individuals are linked to the mission are qualities not only command chiefs should have, but all Airmen as well.
"Equating it to our airmanship, it really is not about you," said del Valle. "It is about your airmen. It's about your organization. It's about the Air Force as a whole."
Now filling the shoes of the senior NCOs before him, del Valle paves his way to the future, forever changed by the invaluable lessons learned while in the Air Force.