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AFMS hosts inaugural CMEF change of responsibility ceremony

  • Published
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. James Woods officially assumed the role as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief of the Medical Enlisted Force during the Air Force Medical Service’s inaugural change of responsibility ceremony for a senior enlisted leader on June 10, 2024, at the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Virginia.

Lt. Gen. Robert Miller, U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, presided over the ceremony, thanking Chief Master Sgt. Dawn Kolczynski, who passed her responsibility to Woods, after serving in the position for four years.

“[Kolczynski] has impacted every significant accomplishment that has occurred,” said Miller. “This includes COVID-19 support, MEDIC-X, mental health initiatives, U.S. Space Force, and [the Air Force Medical Command]. I cannot thank her enough for all the support she has provided me over these past few years.”

Kolczynski, who joined the Air Force in 1995, is a bioenvironmental engineer by trade. She served at several bases, including Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; Nellis AFB, Nevada; and, Ramstein Air Base in Germany. She earned her first group superintendent position in 2015 at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. She became CMEF in 2020, serving alongside two surgeons general. Following her assignment as the CMEF, Kolczynski is lending her years of leadership experience to the Defense Health Agency.

She spoke during the ceremony, recognizing all who have supported her during her time.

“Over the past four years I have grown a lot and I have learned a lot,” said Kolczynski. “It has been a true privilege to serve as your CMEF. Our enlisted medics are our strength. They are highly qualified, competent Airmen, answering our nation’s call every single day and delivering Trusted Care anytime, anywhere … I know you are in great hands with Chief Master Sgt. Woods. His calm and caring personality, along with his extensive operational background is exactly what the AFMS needs to prepare for Great Power Competition.”

Chief Woods enlisted in the Air Force in September of 1999 and his background includes duties in the Respiratory Care Practitioner career field, Education and Training, Readiness, Base Honor Guard, First Sergeant and he was a member of the Air Force Action Shooting Team. He has held various senior enlisted positions while serving at squadron, group, wing and command levels. Chief Woods has deployed as a Critical Care Air Transport Team member in support of humanitarian missions, Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn.

“It is with great humility and sense of duty that I assume this role during a time of monumental change for the Department of the Air Force and for our medical service,” said Woods. “As we navigate this period of transformation, it is essential that we remain steadfast in our commitment to maintain an enterprise-wide focus to provide a medically ready force and ready medics, while supporting the Defense Health Agency by providing world-class health care in the face of unprecedented challenges and shifting landscapes. It is imperative that we remain focused on readiness, people and culture. These pillars will serve as the foundation upon which we will build a stronger, more resilient Air Force Medical Service, capable of meeting the needs of our Airmen, Guardians and their families.”

Ceremonies for Air Force senior enlisted leaders are new, having been made official in March 2024. According to Air Force Pamphlet 36-2692, induction and change of responsibility ceremonies are primarily for those who lead alongside a commander.

“The change of responsibility is a traditional event that is rich with symbolism and heritage. The key to the ceremony is the passing of the unit’s colors,” according to AFPAM 36-2692. “The colors symbolize the lineage and honors of the unit, and also the loyalty and unity of its Airmen. This demonstrates to the formation that the responsibility has passed to the new senior enlisted leader, and with this also passes the SEL’s charge to uphold the discipline, readiness, and welfare of the organization’s enlisted force.”