Eric W. Benken

Summary

Eric W. Benken
Eric W. Benken.jpg
Chief Master Sergeant Eric W. Benken c. 1996
Born (1951-08-20) August 20, 1951 (age 69)
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Years of service1970–1999
RankChief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsAir Force Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal (2)
Air Force Commendation Medal (3)
Joint Service Achievement Medal

Eric W. Benken (born August 20, 1951)[1] is a retired airman of the United States Air Force who served as the 12th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force from 1996 to 1999. He was the last Vietnam War veteran to hold the position.

Military career

Benken was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and entered the United States Air Force in March 1970. His background was in information management. He served in operational, maintenance and support units at every level of command from squadron through Major Command. Benken served in Taiwan, Korea, and South Vietnam, and in a joint service (NATO) assignment at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). He served as Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Commanders of 12th Air Force and United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). During his tenure as USAFE Senior Enlisted Advisor and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, the Air Force was involved in operations Northern Watch-Southern Watch (Iraq), Provide Promise (Bosnia), Provide Comfort (Iraq), Deliberate Force (Bosnia), Joint Endeavor in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Desert Fox (Iraq) and Allied Force (Kosovo).

Benken served as the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force from November 1996 to July 1999. In this role Benken was the senior enlisted advisor to General Ron Fogleman and General Michael E. Ryan, the respective [[Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force|during his tenure. He also served Secretaries of the Air Force, Sheila Widnall and F. Whitten Peters. Benken's many initiatives included the development of the Command Chief Master Sergeant title (previously Senior Enlisted Advisor) and creation of a distinctive insignia; the implementation of Warrior Week at Basic Military Training; the successful fight against congressional efforts to interfere with gender integrated training at Basic Military Training; fighting for repeal of the 1986 40 percent retirement and creation of the NCO Professional Development Seminar. The Air Force Core Values of Integrity, Service Before Self and Excellence in All You Do were released in January 1997 in "The Little Blue Book." The development of the new Air Force Symbol began in 1998 to enhance recruiting and retention.

Education

Assignments

  1. March 1970 – April 1970, basic trainee, Basic Military Training, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
  2. May 1970 – December 1970, administrative specialist, 2578th Supply Squadron, Ellington Air Force Base, Texas
  3. January 1971 – March 1972, administrative specialist, maintenance training section and maintenance quality control, 374th Tactical Airlift Wing, Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan. Also deployed to Detachment 1, 834th Air Division, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam
  4. April 1972 – September 1978, chief clerk, 67th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron and noncommissioned officer in charge, Director of Operations Administration, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas
  5. October 1978 – October 1979, executive noncommissioned officer to the commander, 314th Air Division, Osan Air Base, South Korea
  6. November 1979 – August 1983, NCOIC, Deputy Commander for Resources Administration and NCOIC, 12th Air Force Command Section, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas
  7. September 1983 – December 1988, Chief, Administration Communications Division and NCOIC, Deputy Chief of Staff for Aircrew Training Devices Administration, United States Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  8. January 1989 – July 1993, Superintendent, Manpower and Document Control Division, Office of the U. S. National Military Representative, and administrative officer, Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Logistics Division, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Mons, Belgium
  9. August 1993 – September 1994, Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Commander, 12th Air Force, Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
  10. October 1994 – October 1996, Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
  11. November 1996 – July 1999, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Awards and decorations

United States Air Force Information Management Badge.svg Information Management Badge
Personal decorations
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Width-44 crimson ribbon with a pair of width-2 white stripes on the edges Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with two width-8 white stripes at distance 4 from the edges.
Meritorious Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Unit awards
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
V
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device and silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award
Service awards
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Good Conduct Medal with silver and three bronze oak leaf clusters
Campaign and service medals
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with bronze service star
Service, training, and marksmanship awards
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon with bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Overseas Long Tour Service Ribbon with bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
Air Force Training Ribbon
Foreign awards
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Award
Vietnam Campaign Medal

References

  1. ^ Marquis Who's Who on the Web

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force document: "Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Eric W. Benken biography".

Military offices
Preceded by
David J. Campanale
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
1996–1999
Succeeded by
Frederick J. Finch