Chief Madsen turns his last wrench (retires)

  • Published
  • By Capt. Scott Terra
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

After completing more than 37 years of faithful service to his country, 452nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. James L. Madsen, officially retired Saturday, July 27, 2019. Madsen’s retirement ceremony took place in March Field’s “Pride Hangar,” and was very-well attended, which considering the soaring afternoon temperatures, proved a fine indication of the esteem with which the chief is held.

“I’ve been side-by-side with Chief Madsen since 2010 and he is the best chief I have ever worked for, and will probably be the best chief I ever will have worked for,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Trautman, a fellow maintainer. Offering further validation Trautman said, “He is the best, there is none better!”    

Commensurately, the chief’s squadron mates went the extra-mile for one of their own, positioning a C-17A Globemaster III aircraft on static display just a few feet behind the stage, providing a most impressive and fitting backdrop for the event.

“Chief Madsen’s dedication to keeping aircrews safe by providing sound aircraft was only rivaled by his devotion to his Airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Willers, 452nd Maintenance Group.

Madsen learned dedication to his job and devotion to those around him decades earlier as a young Airman.

Born in 1964 to parents William and Janet Madsen, he and his four siblings grew up on a small farm in nearby Morgan, Minn. Shortly after graduating high school in 1982, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. Madsen completed Basic Military Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, after which he completed crew chief technical training at Sheppard AFB, Illinois.

Madsen’s first assignment was to Norton AFB, California, as part of the 63rd Organizational Maintenance Squadron, where he helped maintain a fleet of 52 C-141B Starlifters. He was the dedicated crew chief for tail number 63-8085.

In 1987 he left active duty and joined the 445th Aircraft Generation Squadron as an Air Reserve Technician at Norton AFB. In 1993, with Norton AFB’s scheduled closure as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act, Madsen transferred to then March AFB, becoming a production expeditor. His primary responsibility was managing the daily launch and recovery of 18 C-141B Starlifters.

During the ensuing 20 years he has seen his unit morph from an Aircraft Generation Squadron to an Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and has held almost every position in the squadron prior to becoming its superintendent.

When the venerable Lockheed C-141B Starlifters were retired and the wing transitioned to the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, his experience and the continuity he provided significantly contributed to the smooth transition.

“Regardless of what type of question anybody ever had for him, his response (usually spoken with a heavy Minnesotan accent) would typically include a ‘well ya’know,’ or a ‘let me think aboot that,’ and was shortly followed by the perfect solution for the situation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Knox, 452 AMXS assistant superintendent.    

Capt. Carlos Rocha, 452 AMXS, addressed the audience, articulating at length how the chief truly personifies the Air Force’s core values. “He’s a chief among chiefs,” Rocha said.

At the ceremony’s conclusion, Madsen was presented with a wide-ranging assortment of parting mementos, including some very personalized hand-crafting from the sheet metal shop, as well as an actual Minnesota Viking’s football helmet, signed by NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkington...another of Minnesota’s favorite sons.