Witter pins on eagles

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jami K. Lancette

Airmen and family members filled Gus Grissom Hall to witness a long-standing tradition as one of Grissom’s own pinned on eagles.

Col. Christopher Witter, 434th Air Refueling Wing director of inspections, was recently promoted to the rank of colonel in front of family, friends and peers during a pin-on ceremony held here Feb. 9, 2019.

Col. Scott Russell, 434th Mission Support Group commander, presided over the ceremony thanking the newly promoted colonel for his dedication to the Air Force.

“Col. Witter is the type of guy who always wanted to be on the front line,” said Russell. “He will always be that type of guy out front leading the troops and has always wanted to be the guy that set the example.”

“I was very pleased to see his name on the promotion list, and that we were able to make this ceremony happen,” added Russell.

Witter, who began his Air Force career in 1988 as an enlisted security forces member, thanked everyone in attendance and mentioned that his success was owed to one of his support systems.

“You never get where you are without other people’s involvement because life is a team sport,” said Witter. “My wife, she backed me up and supported my decisions, she was my biggest cheerleader.”

The history of the prestigious rank of colonel dates back to around 1505, when the Spanish King Ferdinand reorganized part of his army into twenty units called colunelas. These consisted of about 1,000 to 1250 men further organized into companies with their commander being names a coronel.

The French, and later the British, adopted the title, and although initially retaining the original Spanish pronunciation, the British soon used the pronunciation of ‘Kernel” were familiar with today.

U.S. Military colonels rank above a lieutenant colonel and below a brigadier general. The modern day insignia for a colonel is a silver eagle with a U.S. shield on its chest and holding an olive branch in one talon and a bundle of arrows in the other.

The eagle insignia led to the informal term ‘full bird colonel’.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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