JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Air Combat Command's enlisted force honored its commander with induction into the Order of the Sword at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton, Oct. 27.
Gen. Hawk Carlisle, who has commanded ACC since October 2014, is the eighth ACC leader to be inducted into the command's Order of the Sword.
“I am truly, truly honored beyond belief and I am humbled that you would give me this honor,” Carlisle said. “It means more to me than you can imagine. I believe it is the finest accolade I have ever received and I cannot thank you enough. I mean this from the bottom of my heart.”
Chief Master Sgt. Steve K. McDonald, ACC command chief, explained why Carlisle was selected for the prestigious honor.
“Throughout his career he has devoted himself to the Air Force and Airmen,” McDonald said. “Without fail, his first thought in any decision and action is about our Airmen.”
The Order of the Sword is the highest honor and tribute enlisted Airmen can bestow upon a commissioned officer. It is patterned after two orders of chivalry founded during the Middle Ages in Europe and still in existence today - the Royal Order of the Sword and the Swedish Military Order of the Sword.
In 1522, King Gustavus the First, of Sweden, enjoined the noblemen he commissioned to appoint officers to serve him - accountants, builders, craftsmen, teachers, scribes and others responsible for conducting the ordinary daily affairs of the kingdom. The system worked so well it was incorporated into the Swedish army as a way to establish and maintain a cohesive, disciplined, well-trained force to protect lives and property in the kingdom. These ancient enlisted personnel would honor their leader and pledge their loyalty by presenting him with a sword.
“The Order of the Sword is designed to recognize a Leader among Leaders,” McDonald said. “General Carlisle fits that description.”
U.S. Air Force NCOs revised and updated the Order of the Sword ceremony and adopted it in 1967. Since then, the rare honor of receiving it has only been accorded to those special leaders who demonstrate extraordinary support for the enlisted corps.
“I would describe Gen. Carlisle as a selfless leader and servant leader,” McDonald said. “I have seen his schedule and how much of his life is devoted to the Air Force. Whether he is testifying before Congress on behalf of Airmen, meeting with leaders of partner nations, serving Thanksgiving dinner at a deployed location or pushing an MQ-9 into a hangar, his thoughts are always on our enlisted Airmen.”
Military branches around the world present prestigious swords of honor to recognize the accomplishments and service to their country and fellow man. In the Air Force, the Order of the Sword remains the highest and only honor presented by the noncommissioned officer corps to a senior ranking officer and is maintained by the command chief master sergeant of the designated command.