WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
In a ceremony awash with military tradition and revelry, Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., was inducted into the Air Force Materiel Command Order of the Sword at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, May 13, 2022.
The Order of the Sword is the highest honor the enlisted force can bestow upon a military officer for providing significant support and contribution towards the development and welfare of the Airmen to whom they serve.
“I am honored, and I am greatly humbled to be given this honor. It is a privilege and the highest accolade that I have had bestowed upon me during my career. It means the world to me as an officer serving with the greatest enlisted force in the world to be given this kind of recognition,” said Bunch.
Bunch is one of only 10 AFMC officers to be inducted into Order of the Sword in command history, which includes just over 300 members enterprise-wide. According to Chief Master Sgt. David Flosi, AFMC Command Chief, Bunch’s genuine dedication to the welfare, morale and development of the more than 13,000 enlisted Airmen in the organization led to his nomination and subsequent induction.
“This honor is never given; it is earned,” said Flosi. “It is one thing to listen. It's something else altogether to actually do something about what you hear. There is no other honor that allows us to properly thank you for your servant leadership. The Order of the Sword is truly appropriate for what you have done and what you will continue to do as our General. You certainly didn't ask for it; you certainly didn't expect it. You earned it.”
The official ceremony included the presentation of the Order of the Sword proclamation, a reading of the citation accompanying the award, a ceremonial scroll signed by the attendees attesting to Bunch’s service and leadership, and the bestowal of a personal sword. Nearly 250 individuals attended the historical event.
The proclamation highlighted Bunch’s dynamic leadership, sincere personal concern for AFMC Airmen and recognition of his adherence to high standards of personal integrity throughout service to the enterprise.
“Your personal and professional dignity, your pride in the uniform we all wear, and your performance as an unequaled spokesman for a strong national defense have strengthened and inspired your enlisted force to set and maintain the highest goals for excellence,” reads the proclamation.
“For you to bestow this honor upon me is remarkable, and I am almost at a complete loss for words. I have been honored and privileged to work for you in this role for the past three years and for many other leaders for the past 38 years. My belief has always been that I work for all of you, and I have tried to live my life as a servant leader, to take care of Airmen and their families, and to have that recognized by you today is absolutely amazing.” said Bunch.
The Order of the Sword tradition extends back to the early 12th century. During this time, medieval noncommissioned officers would honor their leaders and pledge loyalty by presenting them with a ceremonial sword. The sword symbolized truth, justice and righteous power, and it served as a visual token that indicated the individual was a “leader among leaders.”
The tradition carried forward through the ages and arrived in the U.S. during Revolutionary War times. Though dormant for many years, the custom was eventually revived and became known as the Royal Order of the Sword, adopted by Air Force noncommissioned officers in 1967.
To learn more about the history of the Order of the Sword honor, visit https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Portals/10/AFEHRI/documents/OrderoftheSword/Receipients.pdf