Chief Master Sgt. Gary Sharp assumed his role as the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Air Force Sustainment Center in July and has since hit the ground running.
Chief Sharp replaces Chief Master Sgt. Jason France, who currently serves as the Command Chief Master Sergeant for Air Force Materiel Command.
After allowing Chief Sharp to become thoroughly immersed in the AFSC culture and mission, the Tinker Take Off sat down with him to ask him about his career to this point and about his goals and vision for the organization moving forward.
Following is the outcome of that interview:
Tinker Take Off: Tell me a bit about yourself, your background, when and why you decided to join the Air Force.
Chief Sharp: I’m from a small town (16 people in my graduating class) on the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa. I worked as a welder and laborer at an asphalt equipment plant before joining the AF at age 17. Tinker is my 13th assignment in the Air Force. Although I’ve been deployed to the AOR (Area of Responsibility) over the past year as the Command Chief for the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing “Red Tails,” my wife and I actually moved here from Japan.
Growing up, I did those things that kids in small towns do that often gets them in trouble and knew I needed a challenge to get me on the right path. I’ve always felt a sense of patriotism and the military has given me exactly what I was looking for. I’ve had some amazing opportunities throughout my career and don’t feel there is any other job that compares to the Air Force in terms of job satisfaction. I cannot imagine anything I would rather do than be an Airman in the USAF.
Tinker Take Off: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from your time in the Air Force?
Chief Sharp: If I were to share some simple words of wisdom that I’ve learned along the way it would be to work hard and put your Airmen’s needs before your own. In my eyes, this is what the Air Force is all about. Not only will you feel better about yourself, but your team will adopt this attitude and it will resonate throughout your organization. I think our Airmen sometimes get wrapped up in their personal goals and lose sight of the fact the Air Force is a team sport. There’s a lot going on in the world and we need to ensure we take care of each other and don’t lose focus of what it means to be an Airman.
Tinker Take Off: What are some highlights of your time in the Air Force thus far, or perhaps a favorite assignment?
Chief Sharp: A great deal of my assignments have been overseas and have afforded me some incredible opportunities to experience different cultures and interact with the local communities. My time at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan is by far one of the highlights of my career. The people both in and outside of the gate and the overall sense of community is absolutely amazing. Remember to pack your snow shovel!
I honestly don’t believe there are good or bad assignments; it’s up to us to determine whether an assignment will be a positive experience. There’s a classic Rolling Stones song titled, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I connected with this song when after several years of having a vote on my assignments, the Air Force decided to throw me a curveball and send me someplace I really didn’t care to go. This particular assignment ended up being one of my best and was an incredible lesson for me – we may not always get the assignments we want, but we need to dig in our heels and bloom where we’re planted wherever it is the Air Force needs us.
Tinker Take Off: Give me a brief summary on what your role at Tinker entails.
Chief Sharp: Although headquartered at Tinker, the AFSC is responsible for 22 locations across the world. My role as the AFSC Command Chief is to be Lt. Gen. [Lee K.] Levy’s conduit to the enlisted force at the various locations by conveying commander’s intent to the field, while making him aware of issues impacting our Airmen.
Tinker Take Off: What are some challenges you’re looking forward to in this new role?
Chief Sharp: I truly look forward to getting out to our wings and associated Air Logistics Complexes and meeting the Airmen responsible for the incredible AFSC mission. Coming from a deployed fighter wing in the AOR, I have a deep appreciation for what our Airmen do and couldn’t be prouder of what this organization accomplishes day in and day out. I want our Airmen to understand their role in the AFSC mission and the impact they have on our nation’s warfighting capability.
Tinker Take Off: What goals do you have, and hope to achieve here at Tinker?
Chief Sharp: The Air Force Sustainment Center in its current state has only been in existence for four years. One of my goals is to work across the five wings and three ALCs across the AFSC to create and encourage cross-talk among the organizations to establish efficiencies that will ultimately allow us to take better care of our Airmen and their families.