Chief Developments at the 172d AW Published Sept. 16, 2013 By TSgt Ed Staton 172d AW . -- Thanks to a Magnolia State visit by the Air National Guard's top ranked enlisted leader, Mississippi Air National Guardsmen were saluted for the impact they are presently making while also getting a preview of what their future roles may entail. With a 'boots on the ground' mentality of getting face-to-face with the state's ANG enlisted forces, Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling, Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard, engaged members of the CRTC and the 172d Airlift Wing during the August 2013 UTA weekend. "Our wing commander, Col Wall, understands the importance of our enlisted personnel," said the wing's First Sergeant, Senior Master Sgt. John Myers. He requested that Chief Hotaling, come to our base and touch base with each tier of our enlisted personnel." The trip marked the first time in more than a decade that an individual in this position had visited Mississippi Guard units. A series of town hall style meetings highlighted Hotaling's interaction with the troops in Gulfport and Jackson as he shared what's going on in the Air National Guard while providing them an open forum time to ask questions. "He values these types of meetings, because so often he's locked into the office at Pentagon level meeting," said Myers. "He thrives on being able to come out and physically see the Airmen that he's been placed in charge of. He doesn't get to do it often." The bulk of Hotaling's meetings were held at Airmen, NCO and Senior NCO levels. Hoatling who assumed his position in February, spoke about current issues such as how having a Community College of the Air Force degree may impact an Airman's future. But it was the Q & A session that generated the most discussion. Expressed concerns differed by group. Airmen in the junior ranks focused on college tuition assistance. The NCO ranks transitioned into talks about the future of the Guard while the Senior NCO's asked questions about fitness and the CCAF's impact on future promotions. The chief took the time to share with them why the Air Force and its reserve components want them to have a specific degree for their AFSC. Hotaling ended each meeting with telling a story about the awareness of Mississippi's profound impact on the military and nation. He shared that a few days before coming to the State, he was with Chief Cody, the command chief of the Air Force. They were at Andrews AFB and getting ready to accompany a C-17 that was bringing in a mortally wounded soldier home. "When the aircraft arrived, I looked at Chief Cody and said that I want you to notice what's on the tail of that aircraft," Hotaling said. It says Mississippi and it's the Mississippi Air National Guard that plays a vital role of what's going on in our nation and they'll continue to do so."