53d welcomes new command chief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
  • 53d Wing Public Affairs
"It's a tremendous honor and an opportunity to give back to those who have and will continue to serve our Air Force in these challenging times." 

That's what Chief Master Sgt. Randy Salefske, the 53d Wing's new command chief, had to say about being chosen to serve as the top enlisted leader. Chief Salefske began work Oct. 2, and jumped right in with a TDY to Nellis, then to Tyndall AFB to visit some of the 53d's geographically separated units. 

The chief came to the 53d Wing from Shaw AFB, S. C., where he served as the First Sergeant for HQ 9th Air Force/USCENTAF. He has a soon-to-be 26-year marriage with wife Lee Ann, a daughter Brandy, and a 1-year-old granddaughter, Leigha Michelle. 

Looking back, the chief said he never planned to make the Air Force a career. Before he joined, he was set up to attend a mechanics school. He still loves working on automobiles and counts that as his main hobby even now. But a knock on the door from an Air Force recruiter changed his life forever. 

"At my four-year mark, I was surrounded by great people and having so much fun - I didn't want to leave," said the Morrisonville, Ill., native. "It was the people. It has always been the quality people who have kept me going. The rest is history." 

The 28-year veteran said he'd been afforded a huge opportunity with the 53d Wing and he plans on making the most out of it. 

"In the Air Force, when you're called on to lead you must step up, said the chief. "I look at this as a way to give back to those who've helped me get here. I've been mentored by great leaders, both enlisted and officers, along the way and I'm excited to be in a position where I can do the same." 

The chief has already got his top three goals for the 53d. 

Continue to prepare for the global war on terrorism 

"My intent is to continue to focus on readiness of the enlisted force, so we remain postured to support the Global War on Terror," said the chief. "This wing is already a well-oiled machine, I want to keep it that way." 

Taking care of Airmen, all Airmen 

"With force reductions and budget limitations the next couple of years, it will be challenging time for our Airmen," said the chief. "We must continue to care for them and their families. Our people will be the key to our success." 

Develop future leaders 

"We each have a responsibility to nurture and develop the next generation of Air Force leaders. In essence we are responsible for training our replacements," he said. "My goal is to ensure these leaders are better than we were, as they will need to be to meet the challenges that lie ahead." 
With some rather large goals set out, the chief said there is one thing that's key to accomplishing them. 

"Effective leadership will be the key to reaching our goals," said the chief. "Talk to your people, let them know what's expected. Train, equip and motivate to meet the standard and then recognize the accomplishments of those who do." 

And although he's a first-time command chief, Col. Ken Wilsbach, 53d Wing commander, feels Chief Salefske is the right choice for the wing. 

"I selected Chief Salefske to be our command chief because he has a heart for mentoring airmen and a superior record of leadership," said the colonel. "I look forward to seeing all he can do to improve our wing. I have great confidence in his abilities."