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New state command chief emphasizes Air Force, Guard standards

PHOENIX - Chief Master Sgt. Dan Gutierrez (left) talks to the Arizona National Guard Air Staff at Papago Military Reservation here Jan 11. Gutierrez assumed the duties of Arizona’s command chief master sergeant during the January drill weekend. (Arizona National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy)

PHOENIX - Chief Master Sgt. Dan Gutierrez (left) talks to the Arizona National Guard Air Staff at Papago Military Reservation here Jan 11. Gutierrez assumed the duties of Arizona’s command chief master sergeant during the January drill weekend. (Arizona National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy)

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Air National Guard's new command chief master sergeant assumed duties as the state's top enlisted Airman during a formal ceremony here Jan. 11 at Papago Military Reservation.

As Arizona's senior enlisted leader, Chief Master Sgt. Dan Gutierrez will advise commanders and staff on the effectiveness, training, utilization, health, morale, and welfare of the state's enlisted Airmen.

"I am honored to be in this position and humbled by the responsibility that comes with it," said Gutierrez. "I want all Airmen to know that my door is open. If you have addressed your concerns though your chain of command first and feel you need additional help give me a call or come see me. My job is to be your advocate."

Gutierrez, a Phoenix native, joined the Air Guard in 1989 and served his first 17 years as a drill status, or part-time, member while working in the construction industry in his civilian life.

"I understand how much work our drill status members put into their positions," said the chief. "I know what it's like to run a work center as a part-time member and appreciate the extra hours and challenges that entails."

A communications electronics specialist by trade, he eventually became a full-time member of the 107th Air Control Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. When the squadron deactivated in 2013 he became the facilities manager for the 161st Civil Engineer Squadron at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

"The closing of the 107th created much uncertainty and stress for our Airmen, and the selfless leadership of Chief Gutierrez was a mainstay through a difficult time," said Brig. Gen. Ted Maxwell, Arizona Air National Guard commander. "He stayed with the squadron until the very end to ensure all of his Airmen found homes elsewhere in the Guard before showing any concern for himself or his next duty assignment. That's a major reason why he's our new command chief today."

General Maxwell also cited Gutierrez' reputation - built in part through his service as the president of the state's Chiefs Council and also through his notable dedication to military standards.

"Disneyland has had the idea for decades that you must be 'this tall' to ride this ride," said Gutierrez. "If you are not tall enough, that's okay; you can come back when you are. We need to have the same approach to promotions, physical fitness standards, PME [professional military education], skill-level upgrades and most of the things we do in the Guard."

The chief said personal integrity and accountability are keys to career opportunities and mission success in today's armed forces.

"If we adhere to standards, everyone can be treated fairly. If we waive standards, we lose quality and integrity. If we set our expectations, and communicate them well, then we will see our Airmen reach them. They will not let us down," he said.

With 2,200 enlisted members in the Arizona Air National Guard, Chief Gutierrez said senior non-commissioned officers must lead as they have been trained. He believes their examples will filter down to junior enlisted members who will follow and emulate them.

"NCOs [non-commissioned officers] are the backbone of any military organization," he said. "Always remember that integrity is measured by what you do when you think no-one is watching. Believe me, your subordinates are always watching."

The chief's first goal will be to recognize the accomplishments of Arizona's Guardsmen at the first-ever Joint Outstanding Airmen and Soldiers of the Year Banquet scheduled for March 22. Chief Gutierrez and Arizona's command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Pamela Higgins, will join forces to combine the annual Army and Air Guard events.

Some of Chief Gutierrez's long-term goals involve investigating new programs which include possible daycare support for families and an advocacy program for members injured in the line of duty.