446th AW command chief leaves sterling legacy

By Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Moody/446th pao on April 2, 2012

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Like a fine wine, Gloria Bennett's 33-year career exemplifies a distinct taste of character and expertise, with a full body of experience and leadership. Her palate developed a unique affinity: caring deeply for the well being of her enlisted Airmen.

"She cares very deeply about the Airmen of the 446th," said Chief Master Sgt. Kathleen Buckner, Air Force Reserve Command command chief. "As I got to know Gloria she became a real person to me and not just a wing command chief. She reached out to me, she mentored me, she taught me what not to do, and I'm extremely proud to say that she's a big reason why I'm the AFRC command chief today." 

Bennett, the former 446th Airlift Wing command chief retired, April 1, 2012 and said she had no idea what adventures were ahead when she enlisted in March 1979.

"When sworn in for the first time, I thought I would serve only my six-year enlistment," said Bennett. "I never envisioned being a Reservist for 33 years. I certainly did not think that I, a naïve, unmotivated nineteen-year old, could become the senior enlisted advisor for a wing of over 2,000 high performing Reservists." 

Bennett, a Tumwater, Wash. resident, said thanks to the wonderful, caring supervisors, commanders and co-workers she was fortunate to work with and the size 12 steel-toed boot mentoring applied by a number of her supervisors, she grew to feel she was a valued member of the 446th AW family. 

With more than three decades of duty as a traditional Reservist, Bennett said she's learned a lot.

"During my career, I came to realize a number of truths," she said. "Be passionate about what you do because with that passion you'll be successful and you'll make those around you successful. It really is okay to fail, no one that's succeeded has done everything right the first time and if you fail try it again and learn from your mistakes. Be involved in the wing, the more involved you are the more you'll love it and you'll want to be a part of this great organization." 

While serving in the command chief capacity, Bennett served as the enlisted Reservist's spokesperson to the wing commander. Her role as liaison included addressing enlisted issues, morale and effective utilization of Reservists, as well as serving as the commander's representative on councils, boards and local military and civilian community events.

Bennett's years with the Air Force touched many Reservists, including, Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th Airlift Wing commander. 

"There are few words I can offer that do justice to the years of service, dedication, and commitment Chief Master Sgt. Gloria Bennett has given to this wing, AFRC, the Air Force and this nation," said Bowers. "She epitomizes all we hold dear as a nation and as a profession of arms. While she will be missed as a key leader in the 446th AW, her legacy is something we cherish and will honor as a standard."