JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –
Last fall, Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Wilson assumed the role of the Alaska National Guard’s new command senior enlisted leader. In this position, Wilson will be working directly with Alaska’s adjutant general, serving as an advocate for enlisted personnel and advising on all related matters.
Wilson has 25 years in the military, and recalls the events that set him on the course of service to his country. It was 1996, and after speaking with military recruiters, Wilson decided to raise his right hand and swear into the active duty Air Force. Eager to pursue his new purpose, Wilson took the “sooner-is-better-than-later” approach and left for bootcamp as ‘open general’; a classification that left his job in the Air Force undetermined. Wilson said it was a leap of faith and a choice he does not regret making.
It was a choice that led him to graduating technical training as an aircraft loadmaster and receiving orders to his first active duty station – Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
For 10 years he supported missions in conventional and contingency response and in special forces as a loadmaster on different variants of the C-130 aircraft. Ready to take on a new challenge, and a far cry from the green Airman who first stepped foot in Alaska, Wilson swore into the Air National Guard and returned to JBER.
Thinking back to what started it all, Wilson described his time in the military as a practical decision that grew into a fulfilling career.
“It didn’t take long to get to the point where I was doing a job I wanted to do, that had value,” he said. “It went from joining for the stability and healthcare coverage to staying because I knew I was serving a purpose that was much greater than before.”
After recounting his development over the years, Wilson noted that the path to his current position wasn’t always a smooth one. There were moments, particularly in his first command, where uncertainty about his future cast a shadow on his service.
“To this day, I reflect on that time in my life and what it taught me,” Wilson said. “It helps me connect with people that might be going through something similar, it shows my vulnerability and keeps me humble. The lesson I ended up with is to forgive yourself, learn and recover, all of which can look different for each person.”
Over the years, Wilson has learned many lessons that he now passes on to enlisted Alaska National Guard Airmen and Soldiers. He maintains and follows a philosophy of ‘enhancing greatness,’ that aligns with an objective he inherited from his predecessor of cultivating leadership among the non-commissioned officers of the AKNG. Wilson will be heading the campaign known as “Year of the NCO” and is working towards a collaborative effort between services that will consist of seminars and workshops with speakers experienced in leadership.
“It’s a program that will emphasize an NCO’s authority, responsibility and willingness to make and act on their decisions,” he said, describing leadership’s goals with the campaign. “It will encourage initiative and welcome innovation up and down the ranks of the organization.”
“Everyone in the Guard is a future leader,” Wilson went on. “And so, I’m always looking for ways to acknowledge, empower and engage them.”
As the new command senior enlisted leader, Wilson plans on working closely and in tandem with enlisted and leaders of the organization. It is a duty he said he is honored to take on.
“When I first joined, this isn’t something I ever thought I would be doing,” said Wilson. “But I’ve always had an interest in helping people rise to their full potential and making them feel valued. I want them to do the best job they can possibly do, so I’m going to do the same for them."