First African American Command Chief Master Sergeant

Command Chief Master Sergeant (CCM) Normal Gilchrest:

CCM Gilchrest is a 1971 graduate of Brinkley High School. He attended the University of Central Arkansas and Philander Smith College.

CCM Gilchrest served the United States Air Force on Active Duty from 1972 to 1976. He was a member of the Arkansas Air National Guard from 1980 to 2009. CCM Gilchrist served his state and country in various positions.

His managerial skills, attention to detail, and his focus on diversity development led him to be selected as the first black human resource advisor at the state headquarters. He was among the original class of 37 HRAs in 1992, and he spent 8 years in this position.

In 2000, CCM Gilchrest was appointed as Command Chief Master Sergeant for the State of Arkansas, the highest enlisted position in the Arkansas Air National Guard. Not only was he the first African American Command Chief Master Sergeant in the Arkansas Air National Guard, but he is also the longest running Command Chief Master Sergeant in the history of the Arkansas Air National Guard; he held this position for 9 years. In this position he worked directly for the Adjutant General of Arkansas and the Commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard overseeing the activity of over 2,000 members of the Arkansas Air National Guard. During this time, as an influential leader, promoted the “Can do anything you set your mind to” atmosphere. He promoted and illuminated the Arkansas Air National Guard, which was not well known throughout the state. Chief Gilchrest also led a very successful civilian career path.

His favorite accomplishment from his military career was having established the annual Enlisted Symposium, which was a two-day joint conference of the top three senior enlisted ranks for both the Air and Army to discuss key issues affecting the enlisted force.

CCM Gilchrest began his postal career in January 1977, at the Arkansas Processing and Distribution Center in Little Rock. During his civilian career he held various positions, including Acting Manager of Post Office Relations, Diversity Development Coordinator, Supervisor of Customer Services, and acting Labor Relations Specialist. He also served in various OTC assignments in Sweet Home, Dewitt, and Magnolia, Arkansas. CCM Gilchrest served as Postmaster in the Arkansas cities of Devall’s Bluff, England, Brinkley, and Forrest City. While representing the Postal Service for the United Way, he was selected Executive of the Year. In November 2004, he was selected as Customer Service Ambassador for the Southwest Area. As a Postal Ambassador, he represented the Postal Service in training films, publications, forums, and numerous activities promoting and fostering a positive image and effective avenues of communication for employees and customers of the USPS. CCM Gilchrest retired from his civilian career in April 2009, and later retired from his military career in October of the same year.

In addition, CCM Gilchrest is a business partner in the Branscomb, Johnson and Gilchrest Funeral Home located in Brinkley, Arkansas. In 2012, he was appointed to the Arkansas State Burial Board by then ¬Governor Mike Beebe and in 2013-2014 served as the board president. He has been serving as a high school and college basketball official since 1985 and has officiated numerous state and regional tournaments. CCM Gilchrest has also formerly served as the Arkansas Director/Regional Developer with the Combined Federal Campaign of Greater Arkansas. Command Chief Master Sergeant Gilchrest retired from military service in October 2009.