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NEWS | Feb. 16, 2024

Air National Guard Director Inducted into Order of the Sword

By Master Sgt. Chelcee Arnold and Tech. Sgt. Sarah McClanahan, Air National Guard

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, director, Air National Guard, was inducted into the Order of the Sword at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs Feb. 15.

The Order of the Sword is the highest honor the U.S. Air Force enlisted corps can bestow upon a leader. Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, command chief, ANG, welcomed Loh during a gathering of Airmen from across the ANG’s 90 wings spanning the nation’s 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.

Loh is the 14th ANG leader who has earned the honor of being recognized by the command’s enlisted members as a leader among leaders who has established new standards of excellence and vision for the future while serving as the director of the Air National Guard.

“To the over 90,000 enlisted members of the Air National Guard, you are truly the Air Force’s best,” said Loh. “Our Air National Guard members are technical experts, they’re tireless workers, they’re skilled craftsmen of our force. You represent the best of the best. I have experienced the best of the Air Force and been shaped by the best. Thank you all for being here.”

Loh became the director of the Air National Guard during an unprecedented time, the COVID-19 pandemic. He inherited a force with more than 108,000 Air National Guard members, with 20,000 Airmen serving on duty domestically and abroad.

“This was a challenging time for the Air National Guard and the world, but he didn’t let a global pandemic stop him from getting after his priorities and ensuring the Air National Guard is the true combat-ready reserve of the U.S. Air Force,” Williams said. “‘Always Ready, Always There’ is not just the slogan of the National Guard; those words are a true representation of the Air National Guard under your leadership.”

Williams said being inducted into the Order of the Sword, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, is not easily earned.

“This honor is not given; it is earned by leaders who show great character and selfless service,” said Williams. “General Loh’s service dates back long before he decided to join the U.S. Air Force. As a military child he saw service and dedication through the eyes and actions of his father. Two characteristics that have served him well as he has led Airmen at each level.”

With more than 80% of the ANG’s Airmen belonging to the enlisted corps, investment in those who execute the ANG’s missions resonates throughout the ranks.

“The enlisted force is the backbone of completing the mission,” said Senior Airman Sydney Smith, intelligence analyst, 118th Wing, Tennessee National Guard, who attended this ceremony after being recognized as her wing’s Outstanding Airman of the Year. “When the enlisted force is cared for, then the mission will not suffer.”

The Order of the Sword is patterned after two orders of chivalry founded during the Middle Ages in Europe, the Royal Order of the Sword and the Swedish Military Order of the Sword, both of which still exist. In 1522, King Gustavus I of Sweden bid his commissioned noblemen to appoint officers to serve him. The people became noncommissioned officers who would honor their leader and pledge loyalty by ceremoniously presenting him with a sword. The sword, a symbol of truth, justice, and power rightfully used, served as a token for all to see and know that here was a leader among leaders and a man among men.

In 1967, the U.S. Air Force NCOs revamped and adopted the Royal Order of the Sword ceremony, exclusively honoring leaders who have significantly contributed to the development and welfare of the people they serve. The ANG welcomed its first inductee in 1981. Since then, 12 more have been inducted, with only eight holding the position of ANG director.

“To all the chiefs in the Air National Guard, but mostly those here this weekend tonight, we have entrusted you with the strategic direction of the Air National Guard,” said Loh. “While we would all like to go back to operations and change our uniform to the youngest Airmen sitting here right now, you all are setting the direction of the force. You all will uphold the legacy of the command chiefs before us. You all are making a difference. Continue that leadership, and thank you for honoring me tonight. But mostly thank you for your leadership out in the 54. Go Guard!”



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