97 AMW Command Chief retires a ‘hometown hero’

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Breanna Klemm
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

There is a KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator who may be known to some as the man who clocked 5,715 hours of flight time. To others, he may be known as the Airman who began and finished his career at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. There may even be others who simply know him as the Oklahoma native who became the 97th Air Mobility Wing command chief.

That man is Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kay who took on the title of “retiree” after a 30-year Air Force career during a retirement ceremony June 18, 2021.

Kay entered the Air Force in September 1991 and, after graduating from Basic Military Training, began his career at Altus AFB where he became a boom operator. Throughout his career, Kay served in numerous missions worldwide providing cargo and personnel transport, refueling capabilities and aerial support for Air Force personnel and allied nations.

Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony where he identified Kay as a “hometown hero.”

“To be a hometown hero you must have courage, concern, and other kinds of good qualities,” said Reed. “A hometown hero is often dedicated to helping others and the hometown hero was always devoted to his or her work. Hometown heroes are caring, courageous, inspiring, generous and dedicated people. Without them, the needy would be starving, the homeless would get sick, and the soldiers overseas would lose hope.”

After serving around the world, Kay finished his career as the 97th AMW’s command chief during his last two years of service where he advised the wing commander on all matters concerning force utilization, readiness, training, career progression and quality of life for more than 5,900 officer, enlisted, civilian, contract personnel and family members.

“For the past few years I’ve had the honor of serving as the command chief.” said Kay. “Over that time we have produced the world’s greatest mobility Airmen, became the only wing under Nineteenth Air Force to execute the mission every day during COVID-19, and continued the mission despite ice-storms and freezing temperatures. We have some of the world's best squadrons right here and I am so proud that I was able to lead and be a part of that.”

Kay will officially retire on September 30, 2021, and he and his family plan on staying in Altus, where his journey began.

“Over the past few weeks, everybody has asked me if I am ready to go or if I think I am ready to go,” said Kay. “The answer to that is I am ready but it is difficult because this is all I’ve known. I consider myself the luckiest man on earth just to get to be here today. I started and ended my career here at Altus AFB. It has been an honor to serve.”