WASHINGTON — Former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Gary Pfingston died Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 67.

Pfingston was the 10th chief master sergeant of the Air Force, serving as the highest enlisted airman from Aug. 1, 1990, until his retirement in 1994 after 32 years in the service.

In a statement released Tuesday, current Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney McKinley called Pfingston “a shining example of service to our nation.”

Pfingston, an Indiana native, played minor league baseball before enlisting in the Air Force in 1962.

He served as an aircraft mechanic and B-52 crew chief, then became a military training instructor in 1973. He later became commandant of the service’s Military Training Instructor School and served as a senior enlisted adviser at a number of bases, including Pacific Air Forces Headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

As chief master sergeant of the Air Force he created the Career Field Education and Training Plan, three-level and seven-level technical schools for all career fields, and mandatory in-residence Professional Military Education schools.

Air Force officials said he remained involved with the service after retiring, speaking at Air Force Senior NCO Academy graduations and military schools.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now