Meet your leadership: Chief Master Sgt. John Palmer
By Senior Airman Rebecca Van Syoc, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 25, 2018
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Last month, Chief Master Sgt. John Palmer took on command chief duties for the 317th Airlift Wing from Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Swanger.
As the command chief, Palmer maintains a connection between the wing commander and the enlisted force of the 317th AW. He is the primary advisor to the commander on matters concerning the morale, welfare, training, professional development, career progression and the effective utilization of the enlisted force of the 317th AW.
A command chief’s duties and responsibilities to the commander are plenty, as Palmer also serves as the commander’s representative for a variety of councils, committees and boards across military and civilian functions. Palmer also communicates the policies of the commander to all levels of senior officer and enlisted leadership.
Despite his rank and important role among Dyess Air Force Base leadership, Palmer began his Air Force career like any other Airman: he had to start at some point in his life.
“I joined the Air Force when I was 20 years old,” said Palmer. “At the time I thought I wasn’t cut out for college, so I worked in construction after high school. It left me bored after a few years, it just wasn’t fulfilling. Eventually three friends and I found ourselves in an Air Force recruitment office and signing a four-year enlistment.”
Palmer rose through the enlisted ranks until he reached the top enlisted rank of Chief Master Sgt. in February 2015. Across his career thus far, Palmer has experienced more than 16 different assignments.
With the experience from a variety of bases, Palmer hopes to focus on being a good leader.
“I didn’t have the best leaders in my initial enlistment in the Air Force,” said Palmer. “I would later have some really great leaders as I served longer, but all of those experiences helped me understand the kind of leader I want to be for my Airmen.”
Prior to Dyess, Palmer was assigned to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. Having been in the area for a little over a month already, the Palmer family is already enjoying life at Dyess and the surrounding town of Abilene.
“I have never seen such a supportive community,” said Palmer. “Within my first two weeks here I was on a first-name basis with leaders from Abilene who are always asking what they can do to help Dyess.”
Even though Palmer has been at Dyess for a short amount of time, he is happy and excited to be part of the mission of the 317th AW and help lead the Airmen working within it.
“I’m in a good position to positively impact the Airmen I’m leading,” said Palmer. “I truly believe in the influence of good leadership, especially from my experience as a younger Airman. I am here to help people get their jobs done. I don’t have to be an expert at every job in the Air Force, but I have to be an expert at helping people.
“The biggest impact I can and want to make, especially working with Chief Dugger as the command chief of the 7th Bomb Wing, is to make sure that Dyess Airmen know that we are looking out for them.”
Palmer’s current priorities include two simple ideas: resiliency and empowerment of Airmen.
“We have to trust our Airmen to get the job done,” he explained. “As a leader, I have to make sure that our Airmen are resilient through challenges and are empowered to work towards innovation to complete the job.”
Despite the fact that Palmer is the enlisted leader of the 317th AW, he is still an Airman just like anyone else in the Air Force and wants those he leads to understand he is approachable.
“My desk and I don’t get along very well,” said Palmer. “I want Airmen to feel comfortable talking to me. There may be a high rank on my chest, but I’m still an Airman just like them. If there’s a problem that’s keeping them from completing the mission, it’s my job to help lessen or get rid of that problem.”