Readiness, Development and Health of the Force captured by the Enlisted Heritage of the New Jersey Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By NJ State Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Rakauckas
  • New Jersey Air National Guard JFHQ

I cannot express enough how impressed I am of our women and men of the New Jersey Air National Guard in their readiness and execution of the mission both domestically and abroad. Our Airmen are the most resilient, trained and capable force I have seen to date and I look forward to the future of our heritage and successes. Readiness, Development and Health of the Force are the vital pillars of focus of the New Jersey Air National Guard and a great success to that is our Senior Enlisted Leaders. We have had many great enlisted leaders that have paved the way for New Jersey Airmen from the first Air National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor, Chief Master Sgt. Theodore “Ted” Jackson, who was a true pioneer of his time.

Jackson served as the top Senior Enlisted Advisor for more than 90,000 Airmen of the Air National Guard from May 1, 1975 to May 1, 1977. Most may not know that he returned to New Jersey after his tour and continued to serve with the Atlantic City’s 177th Fighter Interceptor Group. After I discovered this information I began to research the previous nine State Senior Enlisted Advisors that served before myself and discovered that they shaped the culture, improved readiness and led the way in maintaining the health of our force.

These Senior Enlisted Advisors were focused on today’s vital pillars we focus on today.

While the missions have changes and as we keep pace with our adversaries in multi-domains to remain the world greatest Air Force, one thing is certain, our people, our Airmen, are our greatest weapon system and our Senior Enlisted Advisors greatly contributed to the past, present and set us up for the future fight.

After learning more about the legacy of Jackson I began to consult with Connie Cisek, who is a retired 20-year-veteran of the New Jersey Air National Guard and currently the civilian executive assistant to the Assistant Adjutant General-Air, Brig. Gen.Patrick Kennedy. Connie has been in this position for more than 30 years and with her assistance I began to research our enlisted heritage from the first appointment, Senior Enlisted Advisor #1,

Chief Master Sgt. George Hildebrant was assigned in 1984. As we moved through history, in 1998 the Air Force established that Senior Enlisted Advisors would now be known as Command Chief Master Sergeants. This history along with these Airmen’s journeys were captured in biographies scattered in their homes, in their memories, in filing cabinets, etc., holding on by a thread so to speak.

I decided to document this information in a book entitled “Senior Enlisted Leaders of the New Jersey Air National Guard” capturing Chief Ted Jackson’s history to the 9 previous and currently serving New Jersey Air National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisors/ State Command Chiefs.

Two of the previous State Command Chiefs have passed, but their history is captured and documented as part of our Enlisted Heritage. The hope is that others after myself will continue to document our enlisted heritage, build Esprit De corps, and a sense of being part of something bigger than all of us, the legacy of the New Jersey Air National Guard and the relevance and air power we bring to the fight abroad and to support and protect the homeland.

The focus of readiness and knowing where we came from is so important. Each Airman must understand they are needed and a part of history bigger than themselves. Each Airmen must continue to develop as our senior leaders did before us to better be prepared to lead and make decisions.

Finally, the health of our force, the most critical link to ensure our Airmen, our greatest weapon system, is taken care of. This starts with Senior Enlisted Leaders that care and connect with their Airmen. We all should be valued and embrace diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging to the world’s greatest Air Force.

The New Jersey Air National Guard is an honor to serve for and with as we continue to build on our heritage, develop our Airmen and ensure our past is captured. Please enjoy the journey as you read the New Jersey Air National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor book electronic version.