HomeIntroArticle Display

Selfish to selfless: an Airman's 32-year journey

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, addresses a crowd during his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021. Briscoe was joined by more than 100 friends, family members and colleagues for his ceremony, which celebrated his 32 years of service in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, addresses a crowd during his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021. Briscoe was joined by more than 100 friends, family members and colleagues for his ceremony, which celebrated his 32 years of service in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)

Then-Airman Kendall Briscoe smiles for a photo at basic military training in October 1989. Briscoe joined as an 18-year-old with a desire to move out of his mom’s house and travel the world for a quick enlistment, but ended up spending 32 years in the service before retiring as a chief master sergeant. (Courtesy photo)

Then-Airman Kendall Briscoe smiles for a photo at basic military training in October 1989. Briscoe joined as an 18-year-old with a desire to move out of his mom’s house and travel the world for a quick enlistment, but ended up spending 32 years in the service before retiring as a chief master sergeant. (Courtesy photo)

Then-Airman Kendall Briscoe stands alongside financial management apprentice course classmates at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Briscoe, who spent 32 years in the Air Force, retired as a chief master sergeant with 14 duty assignments under his belt between 1989 and 2021. (Courtesy photo)

Then-Airman Kendall Briscoe stands alongside financial management apprentice course classmates at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Briscoe, who spent 32 years in the Air Force, retired as a chief master sergeant with 14 duty assignments under his belt between 1989 and 2021. (Courtesy photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

When retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe enlisted in 1989 at 18 years old, he had no idea his path would take him on a journey of self-evolution from a young, selfish Airman to a selfless leader with the longest enlistment at the time of his retirement in 2021.

Briscoe, who said his mother’s motto was “No one is going to outwork me,” began his career at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, with a gumption that would persist the rest of his 32 years in the service.

“I was working hard, but playing harder,” he explained. “I was selfish. I remember getting in trouble and being called to the commander's office, where I faced several senior noncommissioned officers.”

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, descends the stairs prior to his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021. Briscoe described his 32-year career in the Air Force as a journey from being a young, selfish Airman, to a selfless senior leader. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, descends the stairs prior to his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021. Briscoe described his 32-year career in the Air Force as a journey from being a young, selfish Airman, to a selfless senior leader. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, descends the stairs prior to his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021. Briscoe described his 32-year career in the Air Force as a journey from being a young, selfish Airman, to a selfless senior leader. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, descends the stairs prior to his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021. Briscoe described his 32-year career in the Air Force as a journey from being a young, selfish Airman, to a selfless senior leader. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)
Photo By: Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon
VIRIN: 210730-F-DT423-1007
Then-Senior Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe stands alongside his wife, retired Senior Master Sgt. Jodie Briscoe, for a photo. Kendall described his wife as his “North Star,” and credits her with being a big motivator throughout his career. A self-proclaimed “power couple,” Kendall and Jodie retired as chief master sergeants. (Courtesy photo)
Then-Senior Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe stands alongside his wife, retired Senior Master Sgt. Jodie Briscoe, for a photo. Kendall described his wife as his “North Star,” and credits her with being a big motivator throughout his career. A self-proclaimed “power couple,” Kendall and Jodie retired as chief master sergeants. (Courtesy photo)
Then-Senior Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe stands alongside his wife, retired Senior Master Sgt. Jodie Briscoe, for a photo. Kendall described his wife as his “North Star,” and credits her with being a big motivator throughout his career. A self-proclaimed “power couple,” Kendall and Jodie retired as chief master sergeants. (Courtesy photo)
Then-Senior Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe stands alongside his wife, retired Senior Master Sgt. Jodie Briscoe, for a photo. Kendall described his wife as his “North Star,” and credits her with being a big motivator throughout his career. A self-proclaimed “power couple,” Kendall and Jodie retired as chief master sergeants. (Courtesy photo)
Photo By: Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon
VIRIN: 210730-F-XX000-0002
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, retired July 30, 2021, following a 32-year enlistment. His quote, “It’s not lonely at the top if you bring people with you,” is meant to inspire young Airmen and future leaders to follow a path of servant-leadership and foster strong relationships in and out of work.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, retired July 30, 2021, following a 32-year enlistment. His quote, “It’s not lonely at the top if you bring people with you,” is meant to inspire young Airmen and future leaders to follow a path of servant-leadership and foster strong relationships in and out of work. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, retired July 30, 2021, following a 32-year enlistment. His quote, “It’s not lonely at the top if you bring people with you,” is meant to inspire young Airmen and future leaders to follow a path of servant-leadership and foster strong relationships in and out of work.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, 11th Executive for Enlisted Matters to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, retired July 30, 2021, following a 32-year enlistment. His quote, “It’s not lonely at the top if you bring people with you,” is meant to inspire young Airmen and future leaders to follow a path of servant-leadership and foster strong relationships in and out of work. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Elora J. McCutcheon)
Photo By: Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitel
VIRIN: 210730-F-DT423-1011

It was his hard work that paid off in that moment, as one of the senior NCOs there chose to speak on Briscoe's behalf — offering to take responsibility for Briscoe, who he described as one of his best-performing Airmen.

That moment became a turning point for his career, and Briscoe set on a path to engage with those around him with an attitude of servant-leadership.

Years later, with lessons learned and experiences to build upon, Briscoe describes “the spark” that ultimately kept him in the service when he felt exhausted.

“I worked to find ways to affect someone else's career,” he began. “A team win or family win kept me pushing.”

"I think the Airmen today are better, faster and smarter than I was. I think the younger generation questions things, and that's healthy.” Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe

His motivation in part was from the Airmen he had an opportunity to work with, and for, he explained. When looking back on more than 30 years of leadership, Briscoe enthused that the connection he's made with Airmen is what makes him most proud.

“All I know is that listening to Airmen will change some things,” he said. “I think the Airmen today are better, faster and smarter than I was. I think the younger generation questions things, and that's healthy.”

He urges new Airmen and developing leaders to continue disrupting as necessary, and to remember to bring up those around them.

“You can get promoted if you know how,” he coached. “But once you get there, who will you connect with if you've stepped on shoulders and necks to get there?”

After three decades, Briscoe says his time taking care of the military side has concluded, and now it's time for his home life to benefit from his experience.