Proclaiming himself “proud, yet humbled,” Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. was officially installed Aug. 6 as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff, becoming the first African American in history to lead a military service as its highest ranking officer.
In remarks following the formal “Change of Responsibility” ceremony in which he took over from retiring Gen. David L. Goldfein, the 21st Chief of Staff, Brown acknowledged an array of people who influenced his life. Among them were his wife, Sharene, and his parents, as well as a list of Air Force colleagues, including Goldfein and other “extraordinary leaders.”
Yet, cognizant of the moment in history, Brown also noted, “Today is possible due to the perseverance of those who went before me serving as an inspiration to me and many others.
“Those like the Tuskegee Airmen, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Chappie James, African American leaders across our Air Force and military, past and present, to include today’s special guest, Ed Dwight, America’s first African American astronaut candidate,” he said.
“It is due to their trials and tribulations in breaking barriers that I can address you today as the Air Force Chief of Staff.”
Brown, who previously served as commander of Pacific Air Forces, was elevated to his new assignment during a solemn, socially distanced, 90-minute ceremony that focused on his achievements while also honoring Goldfein’s 37-year service in the Air Force and his four years as chief of staff.
Among those paying tribute were Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Department of the Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley. The ceremony also honored Goldfein as Esper presented him with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Esper honored Dawn Goldfein as well, presenting her with the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award.