February 27, 2015 – Chief Master Sgt. Douglas McIntyre, Command Chief, Air Force Space Command, recognized the command’s first-ever command chief during the Enlisted Board of Directors dinner hosted by the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, February 18.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, asked all MAJCOM command chiefs to honor an enlisted hero from their command’s past.
“The first name that came to my mind was Chief Master Sgt. (retired) Chuck Zimkas,” said Chief McIntyre. “Not only is he the first command chief for Air Force Space Command, his continued work through the Space Foundation after he retired from the Air Force earned him the Hartinger Award – the only enlisted person to achieve such an honor.”
At the dinner, Chief McIntyre shared a few of the many highlights of Chief Zimkas’ 26-year Air Force career and his post Air Force career as a lifetime advocate of space development. During his career he was selected as one of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year, which led to greater involvement in the Air Force Association from chapter to national level.
Prior to his Air Force retirement, Zimkas served as the national Noncommissioned Officer Association Chairman of the Board when he was invited to the White House to present President Ronald Reagan an honorary membership into the NCOA.
The Chief was awarded the Legion of Merit on retirement from the Air Force and the Air Force Space Command Headquarters Enlisted Heritage Room was named in his honor.
Not his only namesake, The Space Foundation announced the establishment of the Zimkas Space Library, named in honor of Chuck and Ursula Zimkas, to serve students, teachers, book clubs and space-related interest groups when Chief Zimkas retired as President of the Space Foundation, after a 27 year affiliation with the global, non-profit organization dedicated to space awareness activities in education and industry.
Chief Zimkas was awarded the General James V. Hartinger Award in 2013 for his actions during his Air Force career and his work with the Space Foundation. Part of the citation reads; “Chief Zimkas joined the Space Foundation in July 1986, as the Director of Operations becoming the Chief Operating Officer until 2012. As the Chief Operating Officer, he was responsible for the operations and logistical support functions of the Foundation. In 2012, he was chosen President of the Space Foundation. As President, he was responsible for operations, education programs, marketing and communications, customer service, facilities, human resources, event planning, information technology, logistics and operation of the new Space Foundation Visitors Center. Throughout his career with the Space Foundation he played a key role in the continued success of the annual Space Symposium, relocation of the Space Foundation to its new world headquarters and creation of the Space Foundation Discovery Center. Chief Zimkas was also the Program Manager for the ‘Reaching for the Stars,’ a highly successful program that recognized the need to bring technology into the field of education.”
Chief Zimkas explained what an honor it was when he found out the current command chief would recognize him in front of the Enlisted Board of Directors.
“I was completely surprised when Chief McIntyre told me that I was going to be the topic of his speech at the dinner,” said Chief Zimkas. “I was grateful and deeply honored that he singled me out for this occasion and knowing there are others also worthy of this special consideration and recognition. My everyday challenge is living up to the high expectations that people expect from me.”
“I’m currently the Vice Chair for the Peterson Air and Space Museum Foundation as well as Chair of the Development Committee,” said Zimkas. “The board has been very busy lately and will soon announce a $1.8M capital campaign to renovate the Broadmoor Hangar, which is part of the museum complex. I’m a member of this year’s NDIA General James V. Hartinger Award’s committee and volunteer some of my time with the local Lance P. Sijan Air Force Association Chapter as well as other organizations.”
Following retirement from the Air Force, and now retirement from the Space Foundation, Chief Zimkas continues to remain active in the community and advocate for Airmen and air and space power.