U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez is now the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman (SEAC) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking noncommissioned officer.
Colon-Lopez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and moved with his family to Bridgeport, Connecticut, when he was in his teens.
He enlisted in 1990 and held positions in Europe and the Pacific before becoming command senior enlisted leader at U.S. Africa Command.He was a pararescue operative and served as Combat Search and Rescue Team Leader. He moved on to Special Forces and was deployed to Afghanistan four times as a Special Tactics Element Leader. His assignments have included positions in U.S. Air Forces Europe, Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Education and Training Command, Pacific Air Forces, Joint Special Operations Command, and Air Forces Central Command.
Over the course of his three decades in the service, Colon-Lopez became known for his essays on leadership. A devotion to high standards and strong relationship building are characteristic of his leadership style.
In the video above, the new SEAC shares his views on caring for service members.
Colon-Lopez was the first Hispanic recipient of the Air Force Combat Action Medal in 2007. He received the Bronze Star with Valor during a deployment to Afghanistan. He also received an additional Air Medal and three Aerial Achievement Medals, among a number of other decorations and awards. His story is even featured in an exhibit called “Warrior Airmen” at the the Air Force museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. In 2017, he was inducted into the Distinguished Veteran’s Hall of Fame in Puerto Rico.
Colon-Lopez is the first Hispanic serviceman, and the first airman, to be appointed to the SEAC position.
Puerto Rico sends a higher proportion of people into military service than most States, and is known for its tradition of military service.