Joint Base Charleston Leaders Hold Historic Positions

Chief Master Sergeant Michael Cole

By Barney Blakeney

Although Black History Month recently ended, the perpetuation of Black History is constant. A prime example of that are the senior leaders at Joint Base Charleston’s Air Base. The top two leaders for the first time in Air Base’s history are African Americans. The 628th Air Base Wing is part of Charleston’s Air Base, which also includes the 437th Airlift Wing and 315th Airlift Wing. Joint Base Charleston encompasses four installations, including Charleston AFB and Naval Weapons Station Charleston. Col. Terrence A. Adams is commander of the 628th Air Base Wing and Joint Base Charleston. Chief Master Sergeant Michael Cole is the Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 628th Air Base Wing.

Adams, a native of Tuskegee, Ala., said his ethnicity relative to his command is a bigger deal than he’d make of it, but he understands that the role is more about the perception of others – how others may see him and be inspired. And he’s quick to offer himself in efforts to promote such inspiration. He recently returned from a speaking engagement in Alabama. Cole, who hails from Maryland, also feels the leadership dynamic at the base is inspirational and helps younger minority personnel realize that ethnicity may be less of a concern than ability.

For the two leaders, ability is where the rubber meets the road. Adams served in the Army, both active duty and reserve, totaling five years. He entered the Air Force through the Reserve Officer Training Corps after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in Computer Information Systems. In 1997 he earned a Masters of Business Administration from Troy State University. He commanded six times at the squadron and group levels and has held a variety of positions at squadron, group, wing, major command, air staff and joint staff levels.

Cole’s resume also is impressive. He is the principal advisor to the commander on all matters of morale, welfare, readiness, professional development, and operational utilization of the enlisted force. In addition to earning in 2016 a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Park University, he has completed training which includes; a 2006 Associate Degree in Aircraft Maintenance Technology from the Community College of the Air Force and in 2016 the Air Force Command Chief Training Course.

Cole entered the Air Force as an Aircraft Maintenance Apprentice in May of 1991. He has held several positions in the aircraft maintenance career field in addition to serving as a First Sergeant. Prior to assuming his current position, he served as the Command Chief Master Sergeant, 15th Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Col. Terrence A. Adams

The officers’ experience and expertise qualify them for the task they face. Joint Base Charleston is host to over 60 Department Of Defense and federal agencies. The wing provides installation support to a total force of over 90,000 airmen, sailors, soldiers, marines, coast guardsmen, civilians, dependents and retirees.

In addition, the wing provides mission-ready expeditionary airmen to combatant commanders in support of joint and combined operations worldwide. As wing commander Adams is responsible for $7.5 billion in base property and capital assets and controls an annual budget exceeding $172 million. In comparison, the scope of Charleston Air Force Base in 2008 consisted of: 7,509 active duty and Air Reserve Component military and civilian personnel which include approximately 3,964 active duty, 2,524 reservists, 1,021 civilians and about 18,000 military retirees.

The leaders say their military experience hasn’t exempted them from the reality of being Black in America, but it offers more possibilities where the processes are less biased – less at the enlisted level than among the executive command level, Adams concedes. Whether civilian or military, Adams said overcoming those biases rests on having courageous conversations. As Joint Base Charleston commander, he’s committed to having those conversations.

12 Comments

  1. Doris A. Cole on March 12, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Chief Michael Cole is my son. I am so very proud of him, his achievements and the pride he brings to me, his brothers, George and Kendrick, and our entire family. I appreciate God for blessing him and for allowing him to be a blessing to so many others.
    Additionally, I would like to recognize the accomplishments of Colonel Adams, as well.
    I extend my congratulations to both
    Colonel Adams and Chief Cole for their exemplary careers and the mark they both made in the history of Joint Nase Charleston.
    Doris A. Cole

    • Doris A. Cole on March 12, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Chief Michael Cole is my son. I am so very proud of him, his achievements and the pride he brings to me, his brothers, George and Kendrick, and our entire family. I appreciate God for blessing him and for allowing him to be a blessing to so many others.
      Additionally, I would like to recognize the accomplishments of Colonel Adams, as well.
      I extend my congratulations to both
      Colonel Adams and Chief Cole for their exemplary careers and the mark they both made in the history of Joint Nase Charleston.
      Doris A. Cole

      • Amy Albright on March 15, 2019 at 8:35 pm

        Ma’am,
        I had the pleasure of working under your son’s, CMSgt Cole’s, leadership for 2 different assignments in Georgia and Okinawa. You should be thanked for raising an awesome man and Airman who leads with his heart.

    • Dorothy Haynes on March 14, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      Love Park University-Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems.

    • Zachariah Earle on March 16, 2019 at 12:49 pm

      I’ve had the pleasure of working under CMSgt Cole in Georgia and it was pleasure being able to serve with him.

    • Mary McLaughlin on March 16, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      Ms. Doris you should be very proud of Chief Cole. You are a blessed Mom for sure. I miss working with George and seeing him with his brothers. You raised some very good men. Mary M.

  2. Valerie Davidson on March 13, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    I have known Terrence Adams for over 20 years! I’m very proud of him. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments! He is very ambitious, smart and articulate. Terrence exemplifies leadership and he sets the bar for success. Thanks for your positive influence!
    Thank you for your service!

  3. SHON NEYLAND on March 13, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Col TA Adams has been the epitome of leadership throughout his career and it is no surprise he has risen to the highest levels as Wing Commander. I dare say he is ready for even more responsibility at the next level as a General Officer. I have known Col Adams since we were Capts together and he has always excelled in service to our nation. I understand the historical implications of his position but I assure you it is not about his ethnicity, but his character and competence as a leader. Simply put, he is an American warrior. I know he will do well and I am very proud to call him my friend. Ch, Col Shon Neyland, Command Chaplain, PACAF.

  4. Aleck A. Brown on March 14, 2019 at 9:01 am

    I’m simply honored to serve alongside these two American warriors. This is truly a historic milestone for Joint Base Charleston. However, I must say, observing these two dynamic leaders execute the mission that it is truly not about their ethnicity. They epitomizes our AF core values as they inspire service members across the Joint Base to serve with integrity and excellence in defending our nations and protecting our way of life. Praying God’s favor for them and their families. Chaplain, Major Aleck A. Brown, Deputy Joint Base Chaplain, Joint Base Charleston, SC.

  5. ARETHA ADAMS on March 14, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    I am the VERY PROUD mother of Col. Terrence Aldrich Adams!
    I often tell him that my wish is for every mother to have a son like him.
    Col. Adams is, in my opinion, one of the hardest working and most dedicated airmen in the AIRFORCE OF THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA! He gets do exactly what he loves and that is one of the reasons why he does it so well.
    Co. Adams has a HUGE HEART, and is willing to help anyone who is ready and willing to work hard to succeed. He is also smart enough to know when you are NOT giving it your all.
    COL. ADAMS, MY SON, has been known to allow others to stand on his shoulders, even if that made them more visible than he. He understands that it is NOT all about him.

    My CONGRATULATIONS to Chief Michael Cole, on all of his accomplishments. It was such a pleasure to have met you and your wife last December.

    My THANKS to all for your service.
    I pray continuously for all of you.

  6. Dr. Sulbrena Day on March 14, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I met Col. Adams during his duty at SAFB. He is an exemplary member of our armed forces. I am so honored to know him!!! Thank you both for your services!

  7. Gary B Slaughter,Jr.,MD on March 15, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Col. Adams is one of my longest friend. My path through my entire career in medicine was somewhat fueled by watching his drive and perseverance. Even in elementary school Terrance was a leader. Race never came up during our childhood times all we focused on then was hard work and being prepared for what life brings.

    Having a commander of Col. Adams caliber is why America is such a great Nation. This country is where you can truly achieve your dreams through hard work.

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