Air Commando family mourns loss of hero

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force #9 Jim Binnicker, speaks during an Order of the Sword ceremony at the Emerald Coast Convention Center in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., May 9, 2014. Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, Air Force Special Operation Command commander, was the ninth officer inducted into AFSOC’s Order of the Sword. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force #9 Jim Binnicker, speaks during an Order of the Sword ceremony at the Emerald Coast Convention Center in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., May 9, 2014. Chief Binnicker passed away March 21, 2015, in Calhoun, Ga. A celebration of life ceremony will take place March 28 at 2 p.m. in the ECCC. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Our Air Force family lost a hero in Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force #9 James Binnicker. Along with all our Air Force brothers and sisters, we mourn his loss.

The chief was so very close to our Air Commando family here at Hurlburt Field and he touched the lives of so many Airmen at Hurlburt and Eglin.

Chief Binnicker came in contact with literally thousands of Air Commandos over the last few decades. From our wonderful relationship with the Air Force Enlisted Village, to the countless forums, Airman Leadership School graduations, memorial ceremonies for our fallen and leadership engagements, Air Force Special Operations Command has lost a senior mentor, friend, teammate and staunch supporter of our command, our people and the mission.

I tell people all the time, and used to say to the chief, that he was an Air Commando through and through and that he adopted us here in AFSOC. Chief Binnicker was such a wonderful part of our AFSOC team that we have him to thank in large part for how we conduct our mission as a command and our get-it-done culture. He was just a tremendous influence on so many of us. I will miss him so much.

The chief was an incredible military leader, mentor and an amazingly brilliant and caring human. To me personally, and to many other chief master sergeants in our Air Force past and present, he has certainly been a shining example for us to follow and emulate.

The chief had incredible character and demonstrated courage in everything he did. These are qualities we hold dear as non-commissioned officers in the Air Force.

One true way the chief connected with AFSOC was through his ability to tell it like it is and never tap dance around what he meant or how he felt about a subject or an issue. In fact, I would offer that we need our NCOs and senior NCOs to be more like the chief.

The chief took a stand on his views and worked through the differences while appreciating other’s opinions to ensure the mission was accomplished. He had incredible people skills and knew how to collaborate and cooperate to get the job done. He demonstrated decency and respect for everyone he came in contact with regardless of where they worked, what they did or where they were from.

Chief was incredibly adept at being frank, open and honest while at the same time ensuring we improved as Airmen and an Air Force. He told great stories and had a way of connecting with us on any topic or issue. We were blessed to have this CMSAF in our constant company and on our team.

I ask that each of you -- every Air Commando and every unit -- find a way to remember the chief and what he stood for and apply it to your own mission and cause.

For our NCOs and senior NCOs, I urge you to reflect and evaluate your own leadership style and development and see how you can be more like CMSAF #9 Binnicker. He loved our Air Force and our Airmen, and everything he did and said was in support of the Air Force family and mission.

God speed, Chief and blue skies always and forever. America's Air Commandos were honored to serve with you.