The Michigan National Guard has a new senior enlisted advisor. Chief Master Sgt. Alan VanPate is the first Air National Guardsman selected for this position. Now, we get to know him a little better, while he visits Michigan National Guard Airmen participating in Saber Strike 16, in Latvia.
CB: Alright, before we start, what do we call you?!
VP: Chief. That’s all.
CB: That works! So how long have you been in?
VP: It will be 30 years on July 2.
CB: And what are some of the assignments you have had in those 30 years?
VP: Well 19 years of that time was spent on active duty. Then I came into the AGR world. I’ve mostly been on Army bases; Fort Benning, Hohenfels, Grafenwoher.
CB: Have you deployed in that time?
VP: I was deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 with the 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade, that’s how I earned the Army deployment patch.
CB: What is it like being so involved with the Army?
VP: I have spent the majority of my career surrounded by the Army. I have been a JTAC (Joint Tactical Air Controller) for a long time so we get assigned out to Army units. I like to say I am bilingual. I have a good understanding of base operations from my time at Alpena. I love my Army brethren. I understand their coms and verbiage. One thing the Army is really good at, is staying on task and I really appreciate that about them.
Senior Enlisted Advisor, Chief Master Sgt. Alan VanPate, Michigan National Guard coins Sgt. Theodor Johnston, Michigan Air National Guard, 127th Wing, Selfridge, Michigan, for a job well done during Saberstrike 2016, Riga, Latvia. (Michigan National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Helen Miller/Released)
CB: What has been your most memorable moment?
VP: I was the superintendent of air support operations for 1st ID. I was leaving early in the morning to depart for my next duty station. With my family in the car we pulled up to leave and all of my Soldiers lined the road to salute me. Emotionally, that was one of the most amazing things that my Soldiers could have done for me. It was a great feeling.
CB: How do you see yourself impacting the Michigan National Guard?
VP: The way I see it, the Army and Air are a team. I see myself supporting the TAGs vision and helping to distribute it down to the lowest level. As a team everyone has to know the overall objective, and the team members can’t be fully invested if we don’t get the plan down to that lowest level. We have to get everyone contributing to the overall success of the Guard and that’s what I intend to do.
CB: What are you expectations from the Soldiers and Airmen now that you are the senior enlisted advisor?
VP: My pet peeve, is everyone, AGR, MDay, Technician, they are all ambassadors in that uniform. I know people are going to do stupid things, but my expectation, is that they understand the things they do, might cause a negative appearance that could affect us all. It affects budget, mission, everything. I just want everyone to remember when they wear that uniform they represent the Army, Air Force, country and our state.