Air Force Mourns 5th CMSAF Passing


Published Jan. 17, 2024
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Robert D. Gaylor, the fifth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, passed away Jan. 17, at the age of 93.

Gaylor’s career spanned nearly 31 years, leaving a legacy of service, leadership and dedication.

"CMSAF Gaylor was a pillar of our Air Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “For more than 75 years, both in uniform and after he retired, he served our Airmen and the institution he loved so dearly. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Among his numerous achievements as CMSAF, he played a significant role in the creation of the Air Force’s new maternity uniform and pushed for a policy change allowing junior enlisted Airmen undergoing a permanent change of station to transport their families at the government’s expense. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gaylor was selected as the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force on Aug. 1, 1977. In this role, he served as the senior enlisted advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the most senior noncommissioned officer in the Air Force. He represented the interests of enlisted Airmen at the highest levels of the service and played a key role in shaping Air Force policies.

Gaylor enlisted in the Air Force in 1948, at a time when the service was still in its infancy. He began his career in the security police, continued to serve in a variety of assignments, including in Korea, Japan and Vietnam. He also served as an instructor at the Second Air Force Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, assisted in reopening the then-Strategic Air Command NCO Academy, and established the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Command Management and Leadership Center.

Following his retirement in 1979, Gaylor never wavered in his commitment to the Air Force community, remaining actively involved with Airmen and their families through organizations, like the Air Force Memorial Foundation and the Air Force Sergeants Association. He continued to meet with Airmen for the remainder of his life, advocating tirelessly for the well-being and professional development of those who served.

Additional Note: Chief Gaylor was a Charter and Life Member of AFSFA and spoke at many of our National Meetings throughout our history. His common sense wisdom and infectious smile will be sorely missed. He last virtually addressed our National Meeting banquet in 2022 at Dayton, OH.

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