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111th CES Chief retires, closes career with hometown ties

A man in an Air Force uniform poses for a picture with his wife and his young adult son.

Pennsylvania Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Christian J. Haas, a native of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania with the 111th Civil Engineering Squadron, celebrates his nearly 39 years of military service with his wife, Jennifer, and son, Matthew, at a retirement ceremony held at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, Nov. 6, 2021. Hass was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal in addition to goodbye salutes and handshakes from his comrades-in-arms at the 111th Attack Wing, where he served as the Base Facility Manager since 2009. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Wilfredo Acosta)

BIDDLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Pa. --

After almost 39 years of military service, a senior enlisted leader here at the 111th Attack Wing retired and closed his career with a nod to his hometown roots during a ceremony held at Biddle Air National Guard base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, Nov. 6, 2021.

Chief Master Sgt. Christian J. Haas, a native of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania,  received his goodbye salutes and handshakes from his comrades-in-arms at the 111th ATKW, where he has served in the 111th Civil Engineering Squadron as the Base Facility Manager since 2009.

The 111th CES Commander and Haas’ supervisor, Lt. Col. Lydia Stefanik, who was deployed during the ceremony, made it clear that he will be missed in a written statement.

“Chief Haas, I cannot believe the time has come for you to retire,” Stefanik wrote. “I am saddened that I cannot be there in person on this momentous occasion. It has been my pleasure to work with you for the past 13 years. Your companionship has been invaluable to me. You will be missed. Congratulations on your wonderful career and best wishes for the next phase.” 

In addition to serving at the 111th ATKW together, Haas and Stefanik have a common tie in Tamaqua High School teacher, Mr. Charles W. Rohart II, who taught there for more than 30 years. 

Hass credits Rohart as a mentor who taught him about sheet metal, welding, and small engine repair. Little did he know, that years later, he would be working with Rohart's daughter in the military. Stefanik, whose maiden name is Rohart, has become a mentor in her own right as Haas’ commanding officer.  

Though Rohart, who passed away in 2016 at 70 years of age did not live to see the moment, his impact and legacy was remembered at events on the same day -- Stefanik celebrated her 40th birthday the day Haas, her senior enlisted leader and her father’s former student, retired.

Col. Christine Munch, 111th Mission Support Group Commander, presided over the ceremony in Stefanik’s absence.

Munch made sure to acknowledge Haas’ family, who throughout his more than 38 years of service supported him while he deployed three times to Kuwait, twice to Afghanistan, and once to Iraq, in addition to multiple stateside missions and training exercises. 

“To your family, thank you very much for your presence,” said Munch. “You know, we could not do what we do without Chris Haas here. And that's largely due to the support that you've given him. So, thank you for that … Just know he's had an influence on a lot of people, including me. When I met him, I was a captain. So, he's helped raise me as an officer, and I definitely appreciate that about him.”

Munch said Haas was a part of the unit’s history with a huge impact on the Wing.

“He just creates success everywhere he goes,” said Munch. “And that's who he is, and that's who I've been happy to work with my whole career. Every time that I work with him, he's been a welcoming partner, somebody who's dedicated to getting the mission done. You can’t get any better than that.”

Haas began his Air Force career in 1983 when he attended Aircraft Armament Systems Technical School at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colorado in 1983.  He then completed all of his upgrade training at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina in 1984. 
 
Following his training, Haas was assigned to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, where he served as a Standardized Load Crew Instructor, teaching personnel how to load bombs and armaments on aircraft.

After serving at Seymour Johnson AFB, Haas was assigned as an Aircraft Armament Systems Specialist, from 1987-1989 at McGuire AFB, New Jersey.

Haas began his tour with the 111th Fighter Wing in 1989 as a Weapons Load Crew member. He served as the 111th Wing Weapons Manager from 2005 to 2009.  The 111th Fighter Wing was redesignated as the 111th Attack Wing in 2014.

“I've been putting on this uniform every day for 38 years, said Haas. “I have been blessed with a great career. When you wear this uniform, it’s a commitment -- a commitment to core values, integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do. Live your life with that.” 

In closing, Haas recalled three key moments in his life with humility.
“It's been a long time coming,” said Haas. “It's a bittersweet, very humbling, very humbling. There are three very humbling things in my life that I will never forget – the birth of my son, getting promoted to Chief Master Sergeant, and this.  I salute you all and I thank you.”