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CMSAF Pfingston Dies: Retired Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Gary Pfingston died June 23 from cancer. He was 67. Pfingston was the 10th person to hold the highest enlisted position in the Air Force, serving as the top chief from August 1990 to October 1994—the period encompassing the first Gulf War and a major force drawdown. He entered the Air Force in 1962 and trained as an aircraft mechanic. His career would take him to Thailand during the Vietnam War, and then to Texas as a military training instructor, becoming commandant of the MTI School in 1979. He held a variety of supervisory and management positions before becoming the senior enlisted advisor for Pacific Air Forces and then Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. His boss at the time, Gen. Merrill McPeak recalls that Pfingston's start as an aircraft mechanic served him well because "he didn't just fix it when it broke; he kept things from breaking." McPeak said that during the 1990s drawdown Pfingston "helped keep the enlisted force from breaking."