182nd fire chief joins top one percent of enlisted

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer
  • 182nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Chief Master Sgt. Clifford Otto III, a fire protection chief with the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, joined the top one percent of enlisted Air Force members when he was promoted to the chief master sergeant here Oct. 1.

Otto has 18 years of military service with the active duty Air Force and Air National Guard. He has served with the 182nd Airlift Wing since September 2014.

Col. Cory Reid, the commander of the 182nd Mission Support Group, said that Otto was already a good choice for a chief master sergeant when he was hired to the squadron as a senior master sergeant, even with not yet having achieved the prerequisite time-in-grade for promotion.

"The guy's got a macro-view, really, of not just the firefighting community, but leadership development of troops within and outside of his career field," Reid said.

Otto said he believes what makes a good chief is someone who is a supporter of the troops and who looks out for their wellbeing.

"By doing that, hopefully that makes motivated and happy employees. A happy employee is a productive one," he said.

"I will tell you, he's extremely passionate about taking care of his troops. You can tell that's been embedded in him since probably an early time in his Air Force career," Reid said. "I know it firsthand, because he's often in my office directly advocating for his personnel."

In addition to leading his Airmen, who he calls the best Airmen and firefighters he's ever worked with, Otto said he likes passing on the knowledge he's collected over the course of his career.

"I do a lot of time with the Guard Bureau in an advisory capacity. I teach a chief fire officer course. I think I taught four courses last year, so I get to get out and teach new chiefs how to be chiefs," he said.

Having, applying and passing on that knowledge not only affects the military service, but the surrounding civilian sectors as well.

The 182nd Fire Department's mission is not only to provide service to the wing, but also to respond emergencies at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport, which shares runways with the base and facilitates 50,000 to 60,000 passengers a month. 

"One of the best things about being on a fire department is generally we only get one chance to make a good impression because we're seeing someone on their worst day or at their worst moment," Otto said.

In accomplishing that mission, the chief said he wants to see growth in his department's in manpower, facilities and state-of-the-art equipment.

"We're lobbying every day for more manpower to give us better capability to provide coverage for the military mission and the civilian mission across the flight line," he said. "The future's looking bright."