RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Thinking he was only going to be talking to first sergeants from around the command at a conference Feb. 13, Gen. William Looney III, Air Education and Training Command commander, was surprised to find out he was being invited to receive the enlisted corps' highest honor.
Chief Master Sgt. Mark Luzader, AETC command chief master sergeant, asked the general to step to the front of the Lahm Conference Room as command staff poured into the room to join the ongoing first sergeants conference.
"It is my distinct privilege to present to you on behalf of the Airmen of Air Education and Training Command an invitation to the enlisted Order of the Sword," Chief Luzader said. "We would like you to come and join us May 30 so we may honor you with our highest possible recognition."
After General Looney accepted the invitation, he took a few moments to address the audience.
"There are many special moments in life, many highlights in a career and memories you will live with forever," General Looney said. "This hits all three. Thank you so very much!
"There is nothing in the world like the feeling you get when you have an opportunity to lead magnificent people and then they respond in the way that you have - it's overwhelming."
The Order of the Sword is the highest honor the Air Force enlisted corps can bestow upon an individual. The tradition dates back to the Middle Ages and the Swedish Royal Order of the Sword, where NCOs would honor their leader and pledge their loyalty by ceremoniously presenting him with a sword. It serves as a means to recognize that here is a "leader among leaders."
The official ceremony is scheduled to take place May 30 at the Westin Riverwalk Hotel. The command will send out ticket information at a later date.