Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. took a ceremonial oath of office Aug. 4 in a surprise event at the White House, two days before he officially becomes the 22nd Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
Accompanied by his family and senior Air Force and Defense Department leaders, Brown raised his right hand and took an oath administered by Vice President Michael R. Pence. President Donald J. Trump said he moved the short ceremony to the Oval Office at the last minute.
“There’s only one Oval Office, and I said, this was the big leagues, and we have to have you and your family over to celebrate,” Trump said at the ceremony. “You’ve had an incredible career, and this is a capper.”
Senators unanimously confirmed Brown to the post in a historic 98-0 vote in June. He will become the first African American officer to serve as chief of staff of one of the armed forces, after holding leadership positions in combat organizations around the globe.
“It is a distinct honor for me to have this opportunity, and so I feel very honored and blessed,” Brown said.
The White House event was a ceremonial proceeding that does not replace the change of command on Aug. 6 at Joint Base Andrews, Md., according to the Air Force. Outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein will retire and hand over his responsibilities to Brown that day.
It is unusual for the White House to hold its own swearing-in ceremony in advance of the formal military proceeding.
Goldfein, Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John E. Hyten, incoming Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, and others attended the gathering.
“Today’s a little bit of a bookend, for us,” Goldfein said alongside his wife, Dawn. “We started this journey with my best friend and my high school sweetheart, and I get to hand over the service to one of my other best friends, C.Q. Brown.”