U.S. Africa Command welcomed its newest senior enlisted leader during a ceremony March 11 on Kelley Barracks.
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jack Johnson Jr. assumed responsibilities from Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Ripka during a ceremony officiated by U.S. AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham, who took command March 9.
“There’s no greater honor for me than to follow in your footsteps,” Johnson said to Ripka.
As the command’s highest-ranking enlisted leader, Johnson will serve as the principal enlisted advisor to the commander and be responsible for informing and educating enlisted service members within AFRICOM on the importance of assisting African partners with operational, institutional and human capacity development of their warrant officer and noncommissioned officer leader development programs.
Johnson comes to AFRICOM from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., where he served as the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Air Force Global Strike Command. He has had a wide range of assignments at various agencies, centers, joint and combatant commands and headquarters.
He has also previously worked in Germany with 3rd Air Force on Ramstein Air Base.
“… Focusing on the continent of Africa with our African partners means a lot to me, and I’m very, very excited,” Johnson said
Ham said welcoming Johnson was a positive part of his first ceremony as U.S. AFRICOM commander, but it was bittersweet because he also had to say goodbye.
Ripka will retire after 36 years of service.
Ripka expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve at the command.
“You know, there’s no other place I would have rather been than serving with this team … ,” said Ripka. “And truly, it’s been an honor and a privilege … to serve my final three and a half years of 36 years on active duty as a member of this great team.
“I give thanks every day for the opportunity to contribute and [for] what a tremendous team I’ve been a part of.”