Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright, the command chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa, has been selected to be the next chief master sergeant of the Air Force.
Wright, who will be the 18th CMSAF in the Air Force's history, was introduced by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein during a ceremony at the Pentagon Wednesday. He will succeed the current CMSAF, James Cody, who is retiring in February.
In brief remarks, Wright said he and his wife Tonya, a retired Air Force master sergeant, are grateful, humbled and excited for the opportunity. He also thanked Cody for his years of guidance and mentorship.
"Seventeen giants have come this way before us, and we understand how important it is and how difficult it will be to fill their shoes," Wright said. "But I can tell you, we'll be ready. We look forward to coming to a base near you."
When introducing Wright, Goldfein called the choice "the most critical personnel selection I will make during my tenure as the 21st chief, because I've learned throughout my career that there is no more important relationship than that between a senior officer and a senior enlisted leader. And when it works, like it has, it's magic."
"Our next chief master sergeant of the Air Force upholds the standards for which this office remains, and the great traditions passed from one wreath-bearer to the next," Goldfein said. "Chief Wright is absolutely the right choice as chief master sergeant of the Air Force number 18 for our Air Force. I am positive he and Tonya will continue to serve tirelessly for our enlisted force as advocates for our Airmen and families. Dawn and I are excited to have them join our team."
Before Wright was introduced, James saluted Cody and his wife Athena for their "remarkable commitment and dedication to taking care of airmen and their families."
"Chief Cody's steadfast leadership in continuing to develop the enlisted force and fighting for our airmen has been unrivaled," James said. "Over the past four years, he has made monumental changes which will continue to positively impact our enlisted force for years to come. I wish him and Athena the best as they begin the next chapter of their lives."
Wright will come to his new job with experience as a four-time command chief, who has led everything from a squadron to a major command. Before serving as the top enlisted airman at USAFE, Wright previously served as the command chief of the 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan in Kabul, and the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.
He deployed to support operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and is a recipient of the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and other awards and decorations.
Wright, who enlisted in 1989, spent the bulk of his career in the dental career field in assignments to South Korea, Kadena Air Base in Japan, and Germany, as well as serving as a professional military education instructor. He has also won nine assorted dental NCO and SNCO of the Year awards.
Goldfein also said that in 2014, Wright became one of the first enlisted airmen to finish Air War College by correspondence.
The Wrights have three children -- Nicole, Kaleth and Isaiah.
Stephen Losey covers Air Force leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times.