94th Airlift Wing Command Chief retires

94th Airlift Wing Command Chief James Michael West holds the retirement flag given to him during his retirement ceremony on the August unit training assembly.  To his right, Col. Heath Nuckolls, 94th Airlift Wing commander, officiated the ceremony.

94th Airlift Wing Command Chief James Michael West holds the retirement flag given to him during his retirement ceremony on the August unit training assembly. To his right, Col. Heath Nuckolls, 94th Airlift Wing commander, officiated the ceremony.

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- When people look up the words longevity, commitment and loyalty in the dictionary the name Chief Master Sgt. James Michael West, 94th Airlift Wing command chief, should appear. 

During the August unit training assembly, another chapter in a good reading novel came to a close. Chief West retired for the second time in his lifetime. This time from his 37 years of military service and the first retirement came from 40 years of postal service. 

"Chief West knows what duty is and that was one of the things that impressed me about him," said Col. Heath Nuckolls, 94th AW commander. "Chief has a love for country, the Air Force and the Air Force Reserve Command. He would come to me and ask what I needed done. This is the type of attitude that is needed to be successful. Chief West is very successful and if he could he would probably stay for another 20 years because he is one of the most dedicated people I have ever met." 

Chief West began his military career in 1969 at Fort Benning, Ga. His military career began as a military police officer protecting people and resources. After an honorable discharge from active duty, Chief West crossed into the blue and began his path on the road that would end 27 years later. 

"I have been blessed through my military career with many mentors and spiritual influences," said Chief West. "I have so many great memories that it is unbelievable."
This was not too far of a stretch from his postal duties where he protected his mail and treated every piece as if it was the lifeline to his customer's connection to their long lost relatives. The people on his mail route noted this and appreciated him as their mail carrier. 

One example of Chief West's dedication and large heart came in the late 1970s where one of the people on his mail route had cystic fibrosis and needed monthly blood transfusions. Chief West, who knew of her condition, donated blood to her every other month, alternating turns with the girl's father. 

"There is a quote that goes like this, 'the quality of your life depends on the quality of the people you are surrounded by.' I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by the highest quality of people during my life," said Chief West. 

Through Chief West's leadership, he was effective in mentoring and training young Airmen to help shape the greatest Air Force in the world. Even as this book closes, there is a new book that Chief West will begin and the only certainty that goes into these pages is the ink of commitment that will flow from his pen. 

"To my family thank you for understanding when I could not be at family gatherings because of my military commitment. I want to thank all the men and women of the 94th Airlift Wing for being there when I needed anything, you never hesitated to respond," said Chief West.