QUANTICO, Va. --
A true stalwart in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations family will soon hang up his blue suit and badge for the last time.
Chief Master Sgt. Christopher J. VanBurger, the 15th Command Chief in the storied 69-year history of OSI, bid an emotional farewell during his official retirement ceremony here Jan. 26, 2018.
“I’ve always said this position isn’t just about me,” Chief VanBurger told the ceremony attendees. “I’m the lucky person that gets to wear these stripes, but it takes a whole list of folks that help execute the duties of this office. Every single day there are people working behind the scenes and I’m eternally grateful to you guys for that.”
Retired Chief Master Sgt., AFOSI Command Chief # 10, and former AFOSI Headquarters Director of Staff Ray Carter officiated the retirement ceremony. He recapped Chief VanBurger’s stellar Air Force career that began in 1989 in communications information systems then transitioned into law enforcement with AFOSI in 1999.
“An OSI retirement is unlike any other retirement, simply because of what we do,” Carter said.
Chief VanBurger’s OSI resume spanned leadership roles at the detachment, squadron and major command level, including assignments as the Special Agent In Charge (enlisted commander) of two separate units.
He assumed his latest position as the top enlisted troop in the command Feb. 15, 2016. The Centereach Long Island, New York, native retires from active duty April 1, 2018.
Chief VanBurger’s career as the consummate Wingman and teammate is punctuated by his keen appreciation of OSI’s legacy which he shared during his retirement speech.
“During the first 55 years of our existence (as an organization) we lost two people, over the next 15 years we lost 14,” the Chief recalled. “These 16 Airmen represent the best in all of us. I had the honor and privilege of working and knowing seven of our Fallen. Every one of us gave a little something, but these warriors made the ultimate sacrifice. Our promise to them and their families has always been that we’ll never forget. That’s why I talk about them today. That’s why I included their pictures in the program. So I ask that you at some point today, think about them, think about their families, say a prayer.”
The 29 plus-year Air Force veteran was presented the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony. The decoration is awarded to those who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services.
“This (the professional relationship between a commander and a command chief) is a partnership,” said AFOSI Commander and award presenter, Col. Kirk. B. Stabler. “And I couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
The citation to accompany Chief VanBurger’s Legion of Merit award read in part: “…Chief VanBurger succeeded at reducing the command’s median time to conduct investigations by implementing a revised report of investigation, utilized by over 250 units and 2,000 personnel, providing leaders faster results with no degradation in quality…he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to reduce the number of short tour assignments in the United States Central Command’s area of responsibility by 10 and reducing deployments by 20, lessening the impact on enlisted personnel and their families…Chief VanBurger reorganized the command’s Senior Non-Commissioned Officer billets, which yielded an all-time high of 20 Enlisted Special Agents In Charge at main operating installations and placed a Chief Enlisted Manager in Procurement Fraud/Special Projects. His efforts ensured SNCOs were in key leadership positions across the Air Force, providing vital counterintelligence and law enforcement support to commanders at all levels.”
A retirement luncheon followed where a grateful command showered Chief VanBurger with parting gifts, all given with the utmost thanks and appreciation to their 15th Command Chief for his unwavering leadership, mentorship and friendship.
“As I look back on my career I wouldn’t change a thing,” Chief ‘V’ said. “My whole adult life has been in service to our country. I’m thankful I’ve been able to do it for so long with the best group of people America has to offer. I know things will be different and I’m excited for the next chapter. But, I’m reassured you guys are going to continue to carry the flag and get the mission done. Thank you for your service.”