by Tech. Sgt. Hillary Stonemetz
Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
7/14/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- After
30 years of service to the Air Force, Chief Master Sgt. William
Cavenaugh, Air Force Recruiting Service command chief, will retire in a
ceremony here July 17.
Cavenaugh grew up in North Carolina and worked for his cousin's
construction company for a while after he graduated from high school.
"I carried 50 pound bundles of shingles up to rooftops," he said. "It
was tough work, and it made me realize real quick that I wanted
something more out of life. I knew the military provided opportunities
so I went to talk to a Navy recruiter--my dad had served in the Navy."
As fate would have it, the Navy recruiter wasn't in.
"An Air Force recruiting flight chief happened to be in his recruiter's
office while the recruiter was on leave and he sold me on the Air
Force," he said.
Cavenaugh enlisted as an aircraft maintenance crew chief in November 1984 and was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
"When I was in maintenance, I did some pretty neat things. I
participated in a search and rescue mission in a C-130 over the Gulf of
Mexico," he said. "I was also named crew chief of the month several
times and awarded master crew chief status which earned me an incentive
ride in a T-38. But it's a career field that is easy to feel like you've
reached the top in so I started looking at other opportunities."
After making staff sergeant, the Chief decided that he wanted to try his hand at a special duty assignment.
"I wanted to be a military training instructor, but then the recruiter
screening team came to Eglin," Cavenaugh said. "They sold me on
recruiting duty and it was a good fit for me. I've been with Air Force
Recruiting Service for 26 years."
While some people join the Air Force for patriotic reasons, Cavenaugh
said he feels most Airmen mature into that mindset and make the Air
Force a career because they come to believe in the ideals of the Air
Force and develop a commitment to something bigger than themselves.
"It's one thing to join the Air Force, but if you decide to make it a
career it's because your reasons for serving have evolved," he said.
Reflecting on his 30-year career, Cavenaugh has a lot of memories that bring a smile to his face.
"Every job was special," he said. "When I was a recruiter on the bag, I
recruited a young man from Tabor City, N.C., that I lost contact with
over the years, but he emailed me recently to let me know that he sewed
on the rank of chief master sergeant."
As the AFRS command chief, Cavenaugh oversaw several improvements to the recruiting career field.
"I recommended the new badge system, as well as the new senior and
master recruiter levels," he said. "This system will help grow the next
generation of recruiters and identify the right people for leadership
positions within AFRS."
Because the command is so spread apart, communication problems still persist, he said.
"Not every level of recruiting has an appreciation for what the other
levels are doing," Cavenaugh said. "We need to get better at listening
to each other. We have a monthly teleconference to discuss important
issues that need to be addressed in the field. The master and senior
recruiters give recruiters in the field a voice."
Despite a challenging couple of years due to sequestration, he wishes to leave AFRS with a parting thought.
"I'm very proud of you," the chief said. "You've exceeded my
expectations in dealing with these challenges and have successfully
navigated through some very transformative years. As a recruiting force
you are more professional now than when I entered AFRS 26 years ago.
Keep up the great work and continue to do the right thing, live up to
the expectations our Air Force has of you, and strive for excellence in
all you do."