Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force transfers responsibility in historic ceremony

  • Published
  • By SAF/PA Staff Writer
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force Roger A. Towberman transferred responsibility for his role as the Space Force’s top enlisted Guardian to Chief Master Sergeant John F. Bentivegna in a Change of Responsibility ceremony Sept. 15.

Towberman was the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, appointed to the position April 3, 2020, a few months after the establishment of the nation’s sixth armed service, Dec. 20, 2019.

“Today is a historic day, not just for the Towberman and Bentivegna families, but for the Space Force,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman. “The position of Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force … is a critically important one. It’s a huge responsibility because it’s not just a responsibility to the senior leadership of the department, but rather it’s a responsibility to all the Guardians and their families located around the world.”

In an emotional speech, Towberman thanked Saltzman, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall,  Guardians, and his mentors from his time in the Air Force.

“Thanks for your faith and trust in me; thanks for the maneuver space you’ve given me,” said Towberman. “I really, truly appreciate it … I want to thank our United States Air Force for taking a chance on me and investing in me for 30 years to prepare me for this.”

Kendall elaborated on the decision to appoint Towberman as the first CMSSF.

“We never found the job that he couldn’t do well, so we gave him one that no one had ever done before — to define what it means to be an enlisted Guardian; and he became the model for all enlisted Guardians to follow, today and tomorrow,” said Kendall.

During his three years as CMSSF, Towberman was instrumental in developing the service’s Core Values; overseeing the stand up of three new service components; and updating the service’s approach to talent management among many other accomplishments.

“Toby your critical thinking, passion for taking care of people and absolute dedication to make the Space Force better has propelled the Space Force forward, setting an extraordinary precedent for all of us to follow,” said Saltzman.

In his final speech before retiring from the military, Towberman had a departing message for Guardians as they continue to develop the Space Force.

“The future of our Space Force, of your Space Force, is a book that you will write, and I can’t wait to read it,” he said.

Prior to assuming his new position, Bentivegna served as the Space Force’s senior enlisted advisor to the Chief Operations Officer in Washington, D.C.

Kendall emphasized his confidence in Bentivegna’s ability to lead a growing Space Force into the future as the services second senior listed leader.

“Chief Bentivegna has the experience needed to continue the amazing progress that the Space Force has made in its few short years in existence,” Kendall said.

Praising Bentivegna for his accomplishments, Saltzman assured the audience made up of Guardians, Airmen, servicemembers from other sister services, family and friends that the newest CMSSF was more than capable of being his partner to lead the Space Force into the future.

“He has proven to be successful as a maintainer, a space operator, command chief, senior enlisted leader and a mentor, and simply put, as a leader,” Saltzman said.

During the ceremony, an exchange of the rank on Bentivegna’s service coat and cap symbolized the weight and responsibility of the highest non-commissioned position in the Space Force and assumption of responsibility in his new position. Bentivegna also exchanged the blue service jacket that he wore in his previous position for a black one with stripes which delineate the position of Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, a distinguished symbol representing all Guardians.

In his speech after assuming the role of Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, Bentivegna spoke about the increasing relevance of the space domain.

“To successfully compete in this domain, we demand your willingness to learn and think outside the box, make uncomfortable decisions and demonstrate a bias for action,” said Bentivegna. “We need to be comfortable with the unknown and cultivate a service where change is not a distraction or disadvantage.”

He continued “It will be our combat-ready Guardians that unleash their technical expertise, critical thinking and creative problem solving to ‘secure our nation’s interest in, from and to space,’” Bentivegna said. “I look forward as we champion this noble endeavor.”