McChord member retires after 50 years of service

By Master Sgt. Todd Wivell on May 4, 2017

For more than 50 years, Mr. Carl Barnes has been a member of the U.S. Air Force, serving 30 years and 28 days in the active-duty and then another 20 years and three months as a civil service employee, and on April 30, he will hang up his hat and retire as an employee of the service.

Barnes is from Lufkin, Texas, and joined the Air Force in 1965, 30 years later, he retired as a chief master sergeant, and within nine months of that he entered back into the Air Force as a civil service employee.

Working in munitions his entire career, with his last position as the 62nd Maintenance Squadron munitions flight chief, Barnes has dedicated this time in service to his country and his fellow airmen.

"Mr. Barnes has served his country in the same career field since December 1965. Since his enlistment during the Vietnam War, he ascended to the top of the enlisted ranks and achieved the rank of chief master sergeant," said Chief Master Sgt. Rodney Neiss, 62nd MXS maintenance superintendent. "After his retirement from active-duty he elected to continue his service with the munitions community as a civil servant. After 50 years of service, Mr. Barnes has chosen to hand off the baton and finish his race."

As Barnes reflected on his 50 years, he mentioned how so much has changed since he first entered the military.

"The utilization of the computer has been the biggest change I have seen since entering the Air Force," said Barnes. "When I first came in, we used pencil and paper to document everything to include the EPR form.

"We would hand write our EPRs, turn them over to an administrative clerk who would type them up, hand them back to us, and then we would proceed with getting the signatures.

"Even as I was leaving my active-duty career, we were just starting with word processors and it took me a while to get used to this new technology."

As much as technology has changed since he first entered the Air Force, the mantra of taking care of his people and those he works with has never changed.

"People are the most important asset you have. I have always lived by the fact that you need to take care of your people and to let them know you care about them," said Barnes. "This is not always giving them a pat on the back and sometimes requires a kick in the pants to motivate them, but at the end of the day, it is about having their backs."

"For more than fifty years Mr. Barnes continued to serve from his love for the munitions mission and the men and women that followed that career path," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Groessler, 62nd MXS NCOIC stockpile management. "This is not a dedication and drive found very often in many, especially with the knowledge and expertise he possesses. The leadership style he has dedicated himself to cannot be measured and will undoubtedly leave behind an immense void to be filled."

Speaking to this fact of taking care of your people, Barnes commented on one of his most proudest moments in the Air Force.

"Back during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, while assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, I led 240 airmen into a deployed location and we supported seventy-two F-16 aircraft as our primary mission," said Barnes. "I led 240 airmen into that conflict, we were successful in completing the mission, and we returned home with all 240 airmen, and this was one of my proudest moments."

According to Maj. Dave Thompson, 62nd MXS squadron commander, Barnes is leaving big shoes to fill and will be deeply missed.

"We will be ‘hanging up' his Air Force number permanently. This number was an index used to track personnel that stopped sometime around the Vietnam War and very few government employees can claim they still have one," said Thompson. "His placard will be memorialized very close to his seat in the maintenance conference room where he represented the men and women of AMMO for two decades here at McChord in his second AF career."

"As a true trailblazer, Mr. Barnes has watched our Air Force transform and he was very much a part of the process," said Neiss.  "Not only is the AMMO community privileged with talking to Mr. Barnes, but all airmen are fortunate to share in hearing his Air Force story.

"The message is simple.  The Air Force will be seventy years old this September and Mr. Barnes proudly served his country and fellow airmen for over fifty years of its existence.  What greater message could be shared?"