Ehrman concludes 38 years of military service to state, nation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Madison Beichler
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Col. J. Fred Ehrman officially retired during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here March 13, concluding more than 38 years of service to the active-duty Air Force and Kentucky Air Guard.

Maj. Gen. Charles M. Walker, director of the Office of Complex Investigations at the National Guard Bureau, praised Ehrman, assistant to the command chaplain at United States Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, for his dedication and service to the Commonwealth. Walker previously served as chief of staff for Headquarters, Kentucky Air National Guard; and Ehrman served as a chaplain at the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing from 2002 to 2018.

“When I first met him, I thought it was odd to have a chaplain with jump wings, but I quickly learned that is something that made Fred unique,” Walker said to the audience of Airmen, friends and family. “This helped his ministry because he could relate to Airmen and Soldiers and anyone at a level that a lot of chaplains find difficult.”

Before presenting Ehrman with the certificate of retirement, Walker honored him with a Meritorious Service Medal and the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal.

“I can tell you that Fred’s down-to-earth, personable ministry was essential to me throughout my time here in the 123rd and at Kentucky Joint Force Headquarters,” Walker said. “There is something about his ability to talk to people as people and not be overly religious or judgmental, but to acknowledge that we all have problems and to be there for people wherever they are. And I think that's a skill that sets him apart.”

Ehrman, a Louisville native, began his military career in 1984 after graduating from Davidson College in the Army ROTC program. He served four years on active duty as an intelligence officer before transferring to the Army Reserve to attend graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin.

He then transferred to the Air Force Reserve while completing a doctorate in German literature. He was commissioned in the Air Force Reserve as a chaplain candidate in 1996 and into the active-duty chaplaincy in 1999, serving at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Ehrman joined the Kentucky Air Guard in 2002 and served the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing for 16 years.

In his role at USAFE-AFAFRICA, Ehrman advised leadership on matters pertaining to the Air National Guard Chaplain Corps, including religious freedom accommodation and morale. He also served as the command chaplain, giving spiritual support and leadership to two combatant commands, nine major operating bases and wings, and more than 80 geographically separated units.

“The Kentucky Air National Guard made me feel welcome instantly, and I was from the very first drill, proud and excited to be here. I knew I was home,” Erhman reflected. “I want to say thank you for trusting me with your stories. I'll always remember you. I look at my service in the Air National Guard, and I see that it has been good and holy work.

“Remember: Fortune favors the bold. Engage boldly and stay true to your calling,” he continued. “So, for now farewell, and may God give each of you courage and strength for the days and challenges ahead.”