Stay the course, anything is possible

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anania Tekurio
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the third in a series of four articles on the Journey to Chief, what it takes to become a chief master sergeant and their experiences in their careers.

"You're a cross-trainee. You're eight years' experience short of everybody else you will be competing with for Tech. Sgt. and I recommend you get as many assignments as you can to help build on your experience in this career field or you won't make it past Tech. Sgt. or Master Sgt., if you're lucky."

Those words would become the spark launching Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Hofmann, 28th Operations Group superintendent, to greater heights in his career.

Growing up in a military family, it was natural for Hofmann to want to serve his country.

"My parents met in the U.S. Army and my grandfather served in the U.S. Navy," Hofmann said. "I knew I wanted to join the military and serve my country, and on my 17th birthday I signed up and entered the delayed enlistment program. My initial goal was to serve 4 years and then go to college."

About 11 months after signing the papers, Hofmann was off to basic military training, where he was told he would be entering the Air Force as a fire protection specialist.

In 1990, Hofmann was sent to McChord Air Force Base, Washington, where he earned his National Registry Emergency Medical Techinician, Hazardous Materials Technician certification and gained experience as a young Airman.

"In 1994, I was a four-year enlistee," Hofmann said. "It went by quickly and I was having a good time so I made the decision to make it a career.  My goal at this point was to make it 20 years and retire as a Master Sergeant."

In 1997, Hofmann, a staff sergeant, was notified he had been identified to re-train into a different career field.

"I had two options," said Hofmann. "I could choose a career field or wait it out and the Air Force would choose one for me."

He filled out a career dream sheet and was selected to become a command post controller.

"Command post controller was my last choice," Hofmann said. "The Air Force was converting the officer billets in the command post to non-commissioned officer positions, so there were over a hundred slots open for that career field and therefore, it was pretty much a guarantee if it was on my list."

He was then sent to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, where he was given that fateful advice by his supervisor and told that if he cared about his career, he'd have to make big moves.

"Being a re-trainee, I was lacking in experience as a command post controller," Hofmann said. "I'm grateful that my supervisor at the time was honest with me."

With that guidance, Hofmann sought additional assignments and deployments to build his experience. 

"Initially, due to lack of experience, I was turned down," Hofmann said. "But I was persistent and over the next 11 years I had assignments at Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces Europe, as well as a joint service assignment and three deployments -- I believe this breadth of experience allowed me to overcome being a cross trainee."

Hofmann added that he never made it a goal to make chief master sergeant, but that seeking out opportunities and doing the best job he could do at all times allowed him to exceed his goals.

He has been a chief master sergeant for five years now and says his career in the Air Force has taught him much about perseverance, teamwork and leadership.  

"Don't ever turn down an opportunity," Hofmann urges his fellow Airmen. "Every assignment, deployment or tasking is an opportunity to make yourself better, get more experience and build on your skills. I tell my Airmen that they have to buy their goals and that their currency is the time and effort they are willing to spend on achieving it."