Air Force SNCO earns “Spirit of the Chief” award at Chief Petty Officer Academy

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Walker
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Enlisted Force Development Action Plan calls for agile and team-oriented Airmen to ensure a unified effort in seizing the competitive advantage. Leveraging joint professional military education prepares Airmen to operate in a joint environment and to dominate the competition.

Master Sgt. Jesse Pickrell, 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron flight chief, embraced the joint collaborative team mindset and was awarded the “Spirit of the Chief” award during U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy graduation, Jan. 28, 2022. 

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Pickrell. “I went in with an open mind and to network. I was surprised to be selected to be the class vice president and for my peers to select me for the ’Spirit of the Chief’ award.” 

The award is given to the course participant who demonstrated outstanding leadership and academic qualities. 

The four-week course brings together an average of 72 students divided into 8 teams. The intent of the course is to provide professional development, learning leadership and management skills, and exchanging experiences that will be shared at the unit level.  Instruction and activities emphasize leadership competencies and presents topics such as professionalism, communication, self-awareness, strategic thinking, diversity and inclusion.

Pickrell emphasized how the course was designed to weave teamwork and networking into every facet of the program. 

“The strategic scenarios that we learned and discussed were unique to the Coast Guard’s mission,” said Pickrell. “The mission and jargon is different, but the process and the mission imperative for collaborative teaming is the same. The tools and skills to overcome complex situations and unite unique teams is invaluable.” 

Pickrell was one of four Air Force Master Sergeants to attend this iteration of the course. All four were inducted as honorary members of the Chief’s Mess, making them unofficial senior NCOs (E-7) of the Coast Guard. 

“I had no doubt that Master Sgt. Pickrell would represent the unit and the Air Force well,” said Senior Master Sgt. Stephanie Leisge, 16EWS senior enlisted leader. “Our unit need senior NCOs like Pickrell to develop and enable our younger Airmen who will then help us dominate in our mission set.”

Upon his return, Pickrell is designing a wing-level professional development program to develop the younger Airmen.

“I want to develop and empower the Airmen of the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing,” said Pickrell. “I’ll take the lessons learned from this opportunity and teach it over time. I hope my experiences and perspectives can help others grow. Enabling younger Airmen now means we are developing the future leaders of the Air Force.”