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McChord’s Chiefs Group donates to AMVETS

Master Sergeant Group designed and funded project for plaque collection

Photo by Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro

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"Thank you for what you've done and continue to do," said Chris Lipphardt, Chief Master Sergeant CMSgt. and President of the McChord Chiefs Group, to veterans gathered at American Veterans (AMVETS) post one in Tacoma, on Jan. 24.

Lipphardt and outgoing President, CMSgt. Jim Williams gifted AMVETS with an Air Force "plaque" for its display wall - a project that took months to design, fund and create in honor of veterans.

"Your sacrifices allow us to do what we do today," Lipphardt told the score and more than twenty veterans that were present. "This is an opportunity to give back to you because your footprints preceded what we do now."    

The plaque actually consists of six framed pictures with the Air Force's creed and ideology encased, and at the center its symbolic blue-and-silver wings, which were handmade, polished, and created of stainless steel. The collection is approximately five-feet tall and four-feet wide with a dedication plaque at the bottom of the circle.

"We wanted to show them we appreciate everything they've done," said Williams, who serves with the 62nd Airlift Wing Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "To be able to say ‘thanks' to our veterans is so important. AMVETS requested representation from the Air Force - something that indicates our presence here. The Chiefs Group decided this plaque represented all of the enlisted men and women at McChord Field and is symbolic of what we stand for."

The McChord Chiefs Group is a private organization that consists of active-duty and veteran master sergeants. Their goal being, "to come together for the betterment of all Airmen," Williams said.

"This project came together because Servicemembers volunteered their time and energy to deliver this distinguished plaque," he said. "Master Sergeant Oliver took the initial idea beyond what we'd envision and I can't think of anyone else who could have done a better job."

CMSgt. Curtis Oliver of the 62nd Medical Squadron designed the display and was instrumental in bringing it to completion.

"Chief Williams said do it so I did," said Oliver, who credits teamwork for making the plaque possible. "(The plaque) reflects what it means to be Air Force and our heritage. To present it to veterans, it means that their lives and legacy and valor is being acknowledged. We can never stop thanking them for their service." At the unveiling ceremony, Oliver received a coin of recognition for his outstanding efforts.

The plaque collection hangs on the AMVETS wall between gifts from the United States Marines and the Coast Guard.

"The Air Force is one of our sisters in service and this gift represents that bond," said George Hight, vice-chAirman of The Pierce County Marine Veterans (PCMARVETS), a non-profit organization created to assist veterans in filing claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "This beautiful plaque now graces our hallway and was built as a symbol of comradery and fellowship. We'd love for the Army and Navy to stake their flag and take their place on our walls. That would make our halls complete."

Photo: (L to R) Chief Master Sergeant David Sanchez, Chief Master Sergeant Jim Williams, outgoing President of McChord Chiefs Group, (back left) George Hight, vice-chairman of The Pierce County Marine Veterans (PCMARVETS), (front center) Kelley Byers, PCMARVETS CEO, (front left) John Hauff, World War II PF51 veteran pilot and AMVETS member, (back right) Chris Lipphardt, Chief Master Sergeant and President of the McChord Chiefs Group, and (front left) Chief Master Sergeant Curtis Oliver, designer of plaque collection.

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