Chief Master Sergeant Rodney J. McKinley

Chief Master Sergeant Rodney J. McKinley ()

TOKYO — Pacific Air Forces’ new command chief master sergeant, Rodney J. McKinley, said he is going to hit the ground running when he reports to his new command in Hawaii on March 24.

McKinley, a Bronze Star recipient, is leaving behind the snow and slopes of Alaska, where he served as command chief master sergeant for the 11th Air Force at Elemendorf Air Force Base.

“I am putting my sweaters and coats in storage bags right now,” McKinley joked during a phone interview Wednesday morning.

McKinley replaces Chief Master Sgt. David Popp, who addressed Pacific Air Forces troops for the last time in late February, according to an Air Force news release. Popp has been selected to be the command chief for Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.

“We’ve had great leadership there before,” McKinley said of his PACAF assignment. “It’s not like I need to come in and fix something that’s broken.”

McKinley said he will bring a little bit of his personality and flavor to the command while picking up where Popp left off.

“It’s about establishing great relationships with the senior leadership at each one of the bases and make sure we are all on the same path and we have good conversations and good rapport,” McKinley said. “And make sure we are all on the same path to take care of the troops.”

He said a priority is keeping PACAF “trained and equipped to go fight America’s battles,” while taking care of the families left at home.

During his last speech to airmen in Hawaii, Popp told them he had spent about half of his tour “on the road,” according to the news release.

“Many of PACAF’s directors don’t have the time or resources to go down as deep into the weeds, visiting with the individual airmen and understanding them to the extent that I have been able to do since I’ve been here,” he was quoted as saying.

He also challenged the airmen to stay focused, especially with what he labels “S4” — suicide, sexual assault, safety and stress, according to the report.

“We need to keep working as a team to prevent and eliminate suicides and sexual assaults within our Air Force family. Our education and training efforts are making a difference, but we need to continue as a team to protect each other,” Popp stated in the release. “We are in a dangerous, fast- paced business and it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day [work], forgetting about our safety and the ever-growing stresses.”

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