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ISR Agency chief inducted to EHH Wall of Achievers

Maj. Gen. Bradley Heithold uncovers his photo at the Enlisted Heritage Hall wall of achievers on Gunter Feb 26.(U.S. Air Force photo/Bennett Rock)

Maj. Gen. Bradley Heithold uncovers his photo at the Enlisted Heritage Hall wall of achievers on Gunter Feb 26.(U.S. Air Force photo/Bennett Rock)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Surprise was the order of the day when Maj. Gen. Bradley Heithold was inducted to the Enlisted Heritage Hall museum's Wall of Achievers Friday.

General Heithold, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1974 and spent three years at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., as an F-4D avionics technician, is currently commander of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency at Lackland AFB, Texas.

Following the general's arrival at EHH and a short tour of some of the exhibits, the visiting party was led to the Wall of Achievers where Chief Master Sgt. Dave Fanning, Enlisted Heritage Research Institute director, explained the purpose of photographs displayed on the wall.

"To be on this wall, the person has to be prior enlisted," Chief Fanning said. "The wall is to recognize those enlisted members who have gone on to achieve great things."

General Heithold had been persuaded by Chief Master Sgt. Paul Weseloh, AFISRA command chief, to visit EHH "since he [the general] had never been there before." Among the photographs on the wall was one covered by cloth, and when General Heithold saw that, he began to realize the true reason for his EHH tour.

Also at that time, General Heithold's son Brett appeared from hiding and was greeted by his father.

Following the unveiling of his photo, the general said, "Honestly, my proudest days are my days as an enlisted man on the flight line. It's an honor to be on this wall with these people. Thank you so much for the thought, and I really don't think you guys know how much of a distinction this is for me."

The general's son Brett said he thought his father would "put two and two together" about the ceremony once he got to the wall, but he was happy family members had kept the event secret for the last couple of months.

"I don't think he expected any of this, but he deserves it. I mean, from one stripe to two stars, this represents 36 years in the Air Force, and for him to be here is just great," Brett said. "He joined the Air Force when he was 18 years old, stayed in for three years, went to the University of Arkansas where he was commissioned through the ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] program, then returned to the Air Force."

He said his grandmother is very proud of his father and "attends everything" from promotion ceremonies to changes of command.

"She will definitely have to come here to see his photograph," Brett said.

Chief Weseloh, who was largely responsible for the general's induction to the Wall of Achievers, said no matter where General Heithold goes, he represent the more than 11,000 members of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency.

"When we travel, he tells his story of being enlisted, and often leaves enlisted members in tears because of his story," he said. "He wears his maintenance badge on all uniforms and is very proud of his enlisted roots. As to where he is today, he gives his days as an enlisted member credit for being very important to his success."

In addition to General Heithold, the wall displays the photo of former President George W. Bush, many Air Force general officers and other former Air Force members such as actors Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, Peter Graves and Max Baer Jr., better known as Jethro Bodine on "The Beverly Hillbillies" television show. Comedian Flip Wilson and former Alabama Governor George C. Wallace also grace the Wall of Achievers.

General Heithold has commanded at the squadron, group and wing levels, to include the 451st Air Expeditionary Group in Southwest Asia. His staff assignments include positions on the Air Staff and a unified command staff.

Prior to his current assignment, he was director of Plans, Programs, Requirements and Assessments, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. General Heithold is also a master navigator with more than 3,400 flight hours in the C-130, AC-130H, MC-130P and HC-130P.