JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) --
The commander of Air Combat Command accepted the invitation for the Order of the Sword July 28.
Gen. Mike Holmes will be the ninth ACC commander who has earned the honor of being recognized by the command’s enlisted members as a “leader among leaders” and an “Airman among Airmen.”
Chief Master Sgt. David Wade, the command chief for ACC, polled the enlisted leaders from ACC’s wings to get the opinion if Holmes had earned the honor by dedicating his efforts to strengthening the enlisted corps during his time as the commander.
“I got a resounding, ‘Yes,’ from 100% of those people that I asked,” he said. “(General Holmes,) you are the leader that this award is meant for, and we want to congratulate you as the ninth inductee into the Air Combat Command Order of the Sword.”
The invitation came as a surprise to Holmes, who was delivering remarks and answering questions during a virtual noncommissioned officer development course. A participant of the course asked Holmes if he would accept the invitation, which then prompted a group of enlisted Airmen to rush into Holmes’ office to congratulate him.
“That’s something that’s really important -- that’s something that's meaningful to anybody in the Air Force,” Holmes said. “So yes, I would be honored to accept that invitation.”
Wade then asked Holmes to walk outside the doors of the headquarters building for one more surprise: Nearly 30 enlisted Airmen were waiting to congratulate and cheer for Holmes.
“This month has been an emotional one for me already,” Holmes said, who is scheduled to retire next month. “So I’m always a little on the edge with being emotional anyway, and I’m glad I have this mask on and a hat so you can’t really see me too well right now.”
“I stayed in the Air Force for 39 years because I found my meaning and purpose by being with Airmen and their families and being a part of this community,” he continued. “When I’m not a part of it anymore, it’s the thing that I will miss the most. So thank you for giving me a minute to feel like a part of this community with you this morning.”
The official ceremony for the Order of the Sword induction is scheduled for Aug. 26, with the change of command and retirement scheduled for Aug. 28.
Watch the video here.