A life-size bronze statue of CMSAF Richard D. Kisling now
stands in the lobby of Kisling Hall at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned
Officer Academy at the Gunter Annex of Maxwell AFB, Ala. Chief Kisling died in
1985 of Lou Gehrig's disease. Kisling Hall, the central building at the
Academy, was named in his honor in 1986. The statue was donated to the Air
Force by the Montgomery (Ala.) Chapter of the Air Force Association, which
conducted a fifteen-month fundraising campaign to make the memorial possible.
The Chief's wife, Alene Kisling, and his daughters, Kathy
Durant and Karen Apple, were present for the dedication ceremony December 13,
as were all ten of the other NCOs who have worn the special stripes of Chief
Master Sergeant of the Air Force since the position was created in 1967. Also
present were AFA Chairman of the Board James M. McCoy—himself a former Chief
Master Sergeant of the Air Force—and AFA National President Gene Smith.
The statue was sculpted by John Lajba of Omaha, Neb., who
also did the statue of Gen. James H. Doolittle in the AFA headquarters building
in Arlington, Va. Gen. Billy J. Boles, commander of Air Education and Training
Command, accepted the statue on behalf of the Air Force from AFA officials.
Chief Kisling was the third Chief Master Sergeant of the Air
Force, serving from 1971 to 1973. Before coming to that post, he had spent most
of his career in personnel. He had also been a recruiter, a first sergeant,
and a sergeant major. He is credited as being the driving force behind the
creation, in 1973, of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy.
He always demonstrated a special feeling for people and
their problems, perhaps partly because he grew up during the Depression as one
of ten children in a farm family in western Iowa. Their mother died at the
peak of the Depression.
In a feature article in 1972, Air Force Magazine called
Chief Kisling "The GI's Man in Washington." That designation stuck
and was recalled in press reports when the statue was dedicated. Alene Kisling
added a line that described the Chief even better. "He was the nicest man
I ever met," she said.
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