OSI enlisted corps honors former Commander

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • AFOSI Public Affairs

During his tenure as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations 17th Commander, Brig. Gen. Keith M. Givens left a lasting impression on those he led.


His positive impact is so pronounced the AFOSI enlisted ranks, past and present, reciprocated by bestowing on him its highest honor, the AFOSI Order of the Sword, during a formal induction ceremony at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling May 19, 2017.


"This being my last night in uniform there can be no greater honor than to be standing before you today," General Givens said humbly during the ceremony. "The irony of getting this award from the enlisted corps is ever since I was a lieutenant, and now that I'm a general, every step along the way I've been molded, shaped and schooled on how to be a good leader. I couldn't have done that without the enlisted corps."


General Givens is only the sixth recipient of the AFOSI Order of the Sword since its inception June 14, 1985. His nomination and induction are a testament to his 31-year active duty commitment toward the welfare and advancement of Airmen.


Among the former Commander's lengthy list of highlights demonstrating his commitment are: fostering professional and personal educational programs for junior and senior enlisted members; expanding and continuing special duty pay for enlisted specialists; galvanizing and empowering senior enlisted leadership opportunities to lead AFOSI units at more than 20 Air Force bases; overseeing the conversion of 51 officer billets to NCO billets in three years; transforming the crime scene investigator program by providing national accreditation to enlisted members; and transforming and centralizing the command's Anti-Terrorism Specialty Teams into enlisted-centric teams.


While addressing his command's big picture needs, General Givens made one-to-one interaction a priority. Three of the many AFOSI lives he directly influenced shared their thoughts:


"In 2009 I was a new civilian at OSI headquarters attending the annual awards ceremony and I didn't know many people at the time, including then Col. Givens, the Region 7 Commander," wrote Special Agent Christopher Smith, 6th Field Investigations Region, Joint-Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. "During the social hour Col. Givens walked over and said, 'Smitty, how are you doing?' I didn't think he knew who I was. But, he took the time to speak to me for several minutes which I never forgot. That says a lot about the man Brig. Gen. Givens is and has always been."


"I was an active duty specialist married to an Army soldier," wrote Special Agent Tiffany McDuffie, Detachment 624, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. "I was told it was impossible to join my spouse at his next assignment due to my specialty. I had to relinquish my specialty with only a possibility of PCSing a year or so later, with no guarantees. Brig. Gen. Givens heard my story and I soon had orders to join my husband. Thank you so much for helping this Starfish."


"A couple years ago General Givens visited Det. 218, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., where I was a Senior Airman with only one year in the command," wrote Special Agent Tiago Andrade, 13th Field Investigations Squadron, Kapaun Air Station, Germany. "I briefed him on one of my investigations which failed at headquarters for failure to complete a step in the case. He said, 'this investigation should not be a fail because you as agents did exactly what you were supposed to do. When I get back to headquarters, I will change this from fail to pass.' He did exactly that. To this day I admire him because he showed respect to our team and valued our hard work. It also meant a lot to Det. 218 because the subject of the case was sentenced to 25 years."                   


General Givens mettle as a leader was tested in the aftermath of what he described as, "our command's darkest day." On Dec. 21, 2015, four AFOSI Special Agents and two Security Forces Defenders were killed when their joint patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle near Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.


The AFOSI Commander attended all six of the memorial services eulogizing the Fallen Heroes.


Mrs. Arlene Wagner, the mother of Fallen Hero, Special Agent Peter Taub, was General Givens guest at the Order of the Sword ceremony. 


"I wanted you here tonight to see what Pete saw, why he wanted to protect this Air Force so badly," the general said to Mrs. Wagner." Everyone you saw tonight, they're all Airmen. And that's what he was doing at Bagram, protecting Airmen. It's not about the planes, it's about the men and women, the Airmen in this great Air Force. I wanted you to see why he thought it was so special, to go out and protect us each and every day. You honor us by being here."


The Order of the Sword is an honor traceable to 1522 when King Gustavus the First of Sweden presided over who are known today as non-commissioned officers. They, in turn, honored their leader and pledged their loyalty by ceremoniously presenting him with a sword symbolizing truth, justice and power rightfully used, and as a token for all to see here was a "leader among leaders."


The old "Royal Order of the Sword" ceremony was revised, updated and adopted by Air Force NCOs in 1967 and remains the highest tribute NCOs can bestow.


General Givens graciously accepted the accolades then turned the tables.  


"I sat on the bleachers with popcorn, watched you go to work and I got all the credit. And I don't deserve all the credit. The credit goes to you. You made this command better every day, he said. "Honestly, I never expected this after 31 years of serving this great Air Force, to go out tonight as an inductee and follow all of my heroes in this command. Thank you all."