AIR FORCE "POSTER BOY" CHIEF MASTER SGT
His life was like a storybook tale and a public affairs officer's dream. Now, it's turned into a nightmare, but he brought it upon himself. He admits that.
Command Chief Master Sgt. Jose Barraza loved to tell the tale of how he started out a gang member in the barrio and changed his future entirely when he joined the Air Force 28 years ago.
"My gang colors were blue, so that's why I walked into the Air Force recruiter's office all that time ago," the charismatic Barraza told innumerable gatherings of young airmen and potential recruits. "If I can succeed to the highest enlisted rank of the Air Force, maybe you can too."
TOO SURE OF HIMSELF
And Barraza did succeed for a long time. But his super self-confidence and good looks got him in trouble with women. The top NCO later told the OSI that his sex-capades with enlisted women was consensual sex. No rapist is he. But the E-9 did violate females' privacy by the indecent "recording" of certain things that are best left alone.
He also disobeyed a direct order to cease his womanizing, tried to erase evidence from his cell phone, and urged others to do so, as well. That got him tagged with several counts of obstruction of justice. Barraza decided his best course of action was to plead guilty and hope he wouldn't get too stiff a sentence.
With high rank comes much responsibility, so the military judge in his case decided to teach him a lesson. The onetime Air Force South command chief was busted all the way down to "senior airman" and sentenced to serve 10 months behind bars for his admitted crimes.
At least Barraza won't lose his pension, built up over three decades. But the former top NCO will always remember the price he paid for not "keeping it in his pants."