An Air Force pararescueman with nearly 30 years in service is going to be the next senior enlisted adviser to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Military Times has confirmed.
Chief Master Sgt. Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez, currently the top enlisted leader at U.S. Africa Command, has been tapped to be the fourth SEAC, succeeding Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the Pentagon announced in a release Wednesday.
"Look at his bio!” retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Gainey, the Pentagon’s first SEAC, told Military Times in a phone interview Wednesday. “He is the right guy to bring life back into the position.”
Colon-Lopez enlisted in 1990, according to his official bio, starting out as a traffic management specialist before heading to the Pararescue Selection Course in 1994. Before his AFRICOM job, he served as senior enlisted adviser to the assistant Air Force secretary for manpower and reserve affairs.
“Congratulations to my good friend Chief Master Sgt.Ramon Colon-Lopez on his selection as the 4th senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Troxell said in a statement to Military Times. “He is absolutely the right senior enlisted leader to advise the chairman in today’s complex and dynamic environment and stay connected to the pulse of the joint force.”
Milley took over responsibility from Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Troxell’s boss, on Oct. 1, as the 20th chairman.
Gainey said he was thrilled that, despite SEAC being a young position, another senior enlisted leader would continue that advisory role to the chairman, as well as oversight and education of troops deployed to the combatant commands.
“I’m so happy that the new chairman, who I served with, selected a no. 4,” said Gainey, who originated the SEAC position, from 2005 to 2008. “I was worried about that, I’ll be honest with you. I’m just so excited that the new chairman saw the value in the position."
Colon-Lopez’s career spans positions in Europe and the Pacific, as well as Air Combat Command and Joint Special Operations Command. His awards include the Bronze Star with "V" device, two Air Medals and three Aerial Achievement Medals.
“He is a top-notch person,” Gainey said of Colon-Lopez, adding that he was happy to see the selection of an airman for the position, after two soldiers and a Marine, retired Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia
Troxell, who took over as SEAC in 2016, made a name for himself among troops as a big fan of tattoos, and as a star in National Geographic’s “Chain of Command” miniseries.
Notably, he made headlines after a January 2018 Facebook post threatening to beat ISIS fighters to death with an entrenching tool, and later that year, when he was temporarily reassigned amid a misconduct investigation.
Troxell was eventually cleared and reinstated as SEAC in March.
A dual retirement and change of responsibility ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 13, SEAC spokeswoman Christianne Witten told Military Times.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.