Florida Air National Guard welcomes new command chief

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. William Buchanan
  • 125th Fighter Wing

The Florida Air National Guard welcomed a new Command Chief Master Sgt. during a change of responsibility ceremony at St. Francis Barracks, May 5, 2019.  

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Tracey Canady accepted the position from U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Gardner, who is resigning from the position after nearly five years of dedicated service. 

During the ceremony, Gardner surrendered the Florida Air National Guard Command Chief Coin to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Brian Simpler, commander, Florida Air National Guard. This symbolically represented the passing of authority of the command chief master sergeant in the organization. Simpler then passed the coin on to Canady, signifying his acceptance of the new position and assumption of responsibility.

Along with the coin, Gardner offered the incoming command chief a few words of wisdom. 

“The biggest thing that I want to relay across to you: This will be the most challenging and hardest job you have ever done, truly,” Gardner said. “It will also be the biggest blessing you receive.”

Canady, a 28-year veteran of the Florida National Guard, was selected for this honorable position by the previous Florida TAG, retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun. 

"Chief Canady is a proven non-commissioned officer who brings a wealth of experience, both Army and Air, to the job," said Calhoun. "His demonstrated leadership and ability make him an excellent choice for this position." 

After the ceremonial passing of the command chief coin, each of the official party addressed the audience packing the room to capacity. Simpler lauded Gardner for his superb leadership during the challenging years in the position. 

“I’ve seen you in action, at least in our last two and a half years together. Two major hurricanes, one of which saw you out in the field with a chainsaw,” Simpler said. “You’ve led with incredibly high energy, with vision, with passion, and I just want to say congratulations, job well done.”

Simpler also welcomed Canady in his new role as the state command chief.

“Chief, you’re the perfect addition to our state leadership team,” Simpler said. “I’m really excited to see all the things you’re about to accomplish in your new role.”

Canady was previously the Chief Enlisted Manager, Medical Group Detachment, 125th Fighter Wing. He entered the Florida Army National Guard in 1991 and became a member of the 125FW in 1998. Among his many positions, he served as the Unit Career Advisor, Personal Wireless Communications Manager for the Fighter Wing and as a member of the Base Honor Guard Team. In 2010 he became the Wing Human Resource Advisor and in 2013 the Operations Group Chief.

Addressing all the Airmen now under his command, Canady expressed admiration for those who got him here, and confidence in his selection to lead Florida Airmen into the future. 

“The Florida National Guard has a history of great leadership,” Canady said, “and I will continue that history as your state command chief.”