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Chief Master Sgt. Ray Dawson becomes Kentucky’s seventh state command chief

Chief Master Sgt. Ray Dawson (right) accepts the guidon of Headquarters, Kentucky Air National Guard, from Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general for Air, to become the Commonwealth’s newest state command chief during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 22, 2017. Dawson replaces Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Moore, who is retiring after more than 35 years of service to the United States Air Force and Kentucky Air Guard. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. James W. Killen)

Chief Master Sgt. Ray Dawson (right) accepts the guidon of Headquarters, Kentucky Air National Guard, from Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general for Air, to become the Commonwealth’s newest state command chief during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 22, 2017. Dawson replaces Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Moore, who is retiring after more than 35 years of service to the United States Air Force and Kentucky Air Guard. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. James W. Killen)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. --
Chief Master Sgt. Ray Dawson became Kentucky's seventh state command chief master sergeant, succeeding Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore, during a ceremony here April 22.

In a gesture to the beginning of Moore’s career, during which he served as a munitions expert for the then-classified F-117 Stealth Fighter, the ceremony was held in front of the newest stealth aircraft, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was on base in preparation for the Thunder Over Louisville air show.

The state command chief is an integral day-to-day member of the adjutant general's senior staff, overseeing the needs and concerns of the state's enlisted corps, and serves as a vocal advocate on their behalf.

“State command chief is more than just the top enlisted rank in the state,” said Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, assistant adjutant general for Air. “You’re the special advisor to the TAG as a primary responsibility and secondarily you’re the senior enlisted advisor to all the general officers.”

Hurst expressed his gratitude to Moore for his counsel and support on a number of issues, from manpower and equipment to budget concerns.

Moore, who became state command chief in 2014, told the audience that serving the Airmen of the Kentucky Air National Guard was a tremendous honor.

“To the wing, this is the best place in the world,” Moore said. “Everyone says it, and I’ve been around the active duty for many years: This is the best (wing) out there.”

Dawson previously served as command chief for Kentucky’s 123rd Airlift Wing. He has been a member of the Air Force and the Kentucky Air National Guard for more than 32 years.

“Chief Dawson, I’ve know you over a decade,” said Hurst, who served with Dawson during the formation of the wing’s Contingency Response Group — the only rapid-response unit of its kind in the Air National Guard. “You made a difference in our culture when we were at a critical point in the CRG, and you’ve done a great job as the wing command chief.”

Dawson is an original plank holder, or founding member, of the 123rd Contingency Response Group, and Hurst credited him with the high morale and esprit de corps found in the unit to this day.

Speaking to the crowd, Dawson said the adjutant general “gave me three charges the other day when he had me in his office. I’m only going to cover the first, and that is because the other two don’t matter if we don’t have the first.

“He said, ‘Chief, make sure my Airmen are ready. They’ve got to be ready spiritually, mentally, physically, and their families have to be prepared as well,’” Dawson recalled. “You have my commitment there, sir. That will be the first thing we do.”