New York Air Guard gets new top enlisted leader during March 10 ceremony
Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hewson, a Queens resident, takes on statewide leadership duties
LATHAM, NY (03/10/2023) (readMedia)-- A pararescue jumper who served in the 1991 Gulf War and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the War on Terror, became the senior enlisted leader of the New York Air National Guard on Friday, March 10 during a ceremony at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham.
Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hewson took over as the New York Air Guard's top enlisted Airman from Command Chief Master Sgt. Denny Richardson during the change of responsibility ceremony.
The traditional ceremony featured the transfer of the New York Air National Guard flag from Richardson to Hewson by Major General Denise Donell, the commander of the 5,880-Airman force, marking the transfer of responsibility from one enlisted leader to another.
The New York Air National Guard, with five wings and an air defense unit, is the largest Air National Guard in the country.
Richardson, a resident of Schuylerville, has been tapped to become the command chief for the 15,000- member 1st Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, Fla.
Hewson, a Queens resident, was formerly the command chief for the 106th Rescue Wing based in Westhampton Beach on Long Island.
In her remarks, Donnell praised both men for their service and dedication.
Richardson, she said, "gives trusted advice, shares much needed feedback, and covers my blind spots."
She thanked Hewson for taking on the responsibility of being the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer in the New York Air
"We will work together to ensure our five wings and air defense sector, are as ready as possible for winter storms in Buffalo, deployments from Africa to Antarctica or something completely unexpected," Donnell said.
Hewson thanked Donnell for selecting him for the job and said it was an honor to take on the new responsibilities.
He also thanked the leaders who helped him during his career.
"The people who invested in me didn't do it so because I asked them to. They did so because of their own character and their commitment to improving others," he said.
Richardson, who served in Scotia's 109th Airlift Wing before moving into the state position, said he valued his service here.
"I consider myself blessed to have spent the last 26 years in New York and in the New York Air National Guard," Richardson said.
Hewson joined the Air Force in 1986 and transferred to the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing in 1989 to serve as a pararescue jumper.
Pararescue Airmen go through two years of training that includes medical training, parachute training and high-altitude parachute jumping, scuba diving, and survival training.
Along with his wartime deployments, he has served in the Horn of Africa.
He also supported NASA space shuttle launches, civilian search and rescue operations, long-range open ocean rescue missions, hurricane relief and responded to the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.
Hewson also served as the 106th Operations Group superintendent and has been the command chief for the 106th Rescue Wing since 2018.
He is a graduate of several military schools and holds an associate degree in applied Science Community College of the Air Force.
In civilian life, Hewson served as a Suffolk County police officer, retiring in 2018 after 25 years as the head of the department's emergency services unit.
His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air and Space Commendation Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal, the New York Aid to Civil Authority Medal, and the New York Defense of Liberty Medal for service following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Caption:U.S. Air Force Major General Denise Donnell, left, the commander of the New York Air National Guard, passes the flag of the New York Air Guard to Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hewson, the senior enlisted leader for the 5,880-Airman force, during change of responsibility ceremonies at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham on Friday, March 10, 2023. Hewson, a Queens resident, is replacing Command Chief Master Sgt. Denny Richardson, right, who is moving into the position of command chief for the 1st Air Force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by William Albrecht)