New monument at EHH honors first sergeants
A new monument dedicated to First Sergeants was unveiled Aug. 4 at the Enlisted Heritage Hall on Gunter Annex. (Air Force photo/Chris Baldwin)
New monument at EHH honors first sergeants



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


8/12/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. -- A monument honoring first sergeants was unveiled outside Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall in a ceremony Aug. 4, coinciding with the 2011 Senior Enlisted Summit.

The monument features two life-sized bronze sculptures of first sergeants, one male and one female. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Rodney McKinley, the 15th chief master sergeant of the Air Force, spoke at the dedication ceremony, which was attended by senior enlisted leaders from all over the country.

Retired Col. Joseph Panza, director of the Air University Foundation, said he was glad to see the monument finally come to fruition. The Air University Foundation partnered with Enlisted Heritage Hall on the monument.

"We are really proud to support the Enlisted Heritage Hall," he said. "I believe it's one of the premiere institutions in the Air Force. Its value is immeasurable, chronicling the contributions of the enlisted force to aviation history and legacy.

"Every time I have a distinguished visitor come in, I always take them for a tour of the Enlisted Heritage Hall. We really should be showcasing the hall, and this monument is a great addition to the already excellent experience they have there."

The project was spearheaded by Senior Master Sgt. Michael Bellerose, currently the command chief at Air Force Reserve Command. He said the lion's share of the funds collected came from the sale of engraved bricks that surround the monument. Bill Chivalette, the Enlisted Heritage Hall museum curator, said he was pleased with Bellerose's work on the project.

"Sergeant Bellerose is outstanding and has really worked hard on this. It has been his show, and he has made it happen," Chivalette said.

The Michael Maiden Studio, located in Sandy, Ore., designed the sculpture. The studio has a large volume of work on display throughout the DoD, including a recently completed bronze sculpture of former President George H. W. Bush as a navy pilot, which is aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

Panza said the monument is a fitting tribute to the men and women who serve such an important role. "The first sergeants are key in maintaining good order and discipline in military units," he said. "They provide an invaluable service to the commander. It's great that we can honor them this way."