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Eric W. Benken

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Subject: Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, WikiProject Yugoslavia/Categorization, Recipients of the Legion of Merit, 1951 births
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Eric W. Benken

Eric W. Benken
CMSAF Eric W. Benken
12th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (1996-1999)
Born (1951-08-20) August 20, 1951
Cincinnati, Ohio
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1970 - 1999 (29 years)
Unit The Pentagon
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards See below

Eric W. Benken (born August 20, 1951)[1] was the twelfth Chief Master Sergeant appointed to the highest noncommissioned officer (NCO) position in the United States Air Force.


  • Military career 1
  • Education 2
  • Assignments 3
  • Awards and decorations 4
  • Effective dates of promotion 5
  • Succession 6
  • References 7

Military career

Chief Benken was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and entered the Air Force in March 1970. His background was in information management. He served in operational, maintenance and support units at every level of command from squadron through Major Command (MAJCOM). Chief Benken served in Taiwan, Korea, and South Vietnam, and in a joint service (NATO) assignment at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). He served as Senior Enlisted Advisor to 12th Air Force and United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). While at USAFE, the command was involved in operations such as Provide Promise, Provide Comfort, Deliberate Force, and Joint Endeavor in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Of interesting note, when Chief Benken entered the Air Force the Chief of Staff was General John D. Ryan. While serving as the CMSAF, he was the advisor to his son, General Michael E. Ryan. As CMSAF, Chief Benken's many initiatives included the development of the Command Chief Master Sergeant title (previously Senior Enlisted Advisor) and creation of a distinctive insignia; the implementation of Warrior Week at Basic Military Training; the successful fight against congressional efforts to interfere with gender integrated training at Basic Military Training; fought for repeal of the 1986 40% retirement and creation of the NCO Professional Development Seminar. During his tenure as CMSAF, the Air Force continued the Bosnian peacekeeping mission, Operations Northern and Southern Watch in Iraq, Operation Desert Fox (Iraq) and Operation Allied Force in Kosovo.

The Chief continues to travel at the invitation of the Air Force while employed at USAA in San Antonio, Tx.

CMSAF Benken served as the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force from November 1996 to July 1999.



  1. March 1970 - April 1970, basic trainee, Basic Military Training, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
  2. May 1970 - December 1970, administrative specialist, 2578th Supply Squadron, Ellington Air Force Base, Texas
  3. January 1971 - March 1972, administrative specialist, maintenance training section and maintenance quality control, 374th Tactical Airlift Wing, Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan. Also assigned temporarily to Detachment 1, 834th Air Division, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam
  4. April 1972 - September 1978, chief clerk, 67th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron and noncommissioned officer in charge, Director of Operations Administration, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas
  5. October 1978 - October 1979, executive noncommissioned officer to the commander, 314th Air Division, Osan Air Base, South Korea
  6. November 1979 - August 1983, NCOIC, Deputy Commander for Resources Administration and NCOIC, 12th Air Force Command Section, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas
  7. September 1983 - December 1988, Chief, Administration Communications Division and NCOIC, Deputy Chief of Staff for Aircrew Training Devices Administration, United States Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  8. January 1989 - July 1993, Superintendent, Manpower and Document Control Division, Office of the U. S. National Military Representative, and administrative officer, Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Logistics Division, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Mons, Belgium
  9. August 1993 - September 1994, Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Commander, 12th Air Force, Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
  10. October 1994 - October 1996, Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
  11. November 1996 - July 1999, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Awards and decorations

Information Management Badge
Personal decorations
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Width-44 crimson ribbon with a pair of width-2 white stripes on the edges Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with two width-8 white stripes at distance 4 from the edges.
Meritorious Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Unit awards
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device and silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award
Service awards
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Good Conduct Medal with silver and three bronze oak leaf clusters
Campaign and service medals
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with bronze service star
Service, training, and marksmanship awards
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon with bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Overseas Long Tour Service Ribbon with bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
Air Force Training Ribbon
Foreign awards
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Award
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Effective dates of promotion

Rank Date
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force November 5, 1996


Military offices
Preceded by
David J. Campanale
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Succeeded by
Frederick J. Finch


  1. ^ Marquis Who's Who on the Web

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force document "Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Eric W. Benken biography".

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