In First, Airman Tapped as Pentagon’s Top Enlisted Service Member

CMSgt. Ramon "CZ" Colon-Lopez meets with US Army soldiers who helped train the Malawi Defence Force during the Malawi Battalion Training Course in Malawi, Africa, on May 31, 2018. Colon-Lopez, who currently serves as AFRICOM's command senior enlisted leader, has been selected to be the next senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa photo by USAF MSgt. Andrew Sinclair.

For the first time, an airman will serve as the top enlisted service member in the Pentagon.

CMSgt. Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez on Oct. 16 was named the next senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing the current SEAC, Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell. Colon-Lopez is currently the command senior enlisted leader for US Africa Command.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright first announced the decision and said on Twitter that USAF’s “brothers and sisters in service are in the best hands possible.”

“I’m proud to say that Chief CZ, our new SEAC, is a friend and an exceptional leader,” Wright wrote. “He is the right airman for the job!”

Colon-Lopez previously served as the senior enlisted advisor to the Air Force’s assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, before moving to AFRICOM. His other past jobs span command chief for Air Forces Central Command; command chief for the 18th Wing at Kadena AB, Japan; and the command chief for the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Colon-Lopez is a pararescueman and received the Bronze Star with Valor and Combat Action Medal for a 2004 mission in Afghanistan, where he took part in an operation to capture a drug kingpin who financed terrorism in the country. His helicopter was seriously damaged by sustained small-arms fire during the mission. Colon-Lopez moved forward while being shot at, overrunning enemy positions, and suppressed enemy fire against other helicopters.

During the mission, his team killed two and captured 10 enemy fighters, and destroyed a stash of weapons. None of his teammates were injured. In addition to combat search and rescue missions, Colon-Lopez also provided security for Hamid Karzai, who was elected president of Afghanistan that year.

Artifacts from his deployment are on display at the National Museum of the Air Force.

The Pentagon has not yet announced Troxell’s next move or when the change of command will take place.