On Tuesday, The Senate unanimously voted to confirm Gen. Charles Brown Jr. as chief of staff of the Air Force, making history in the United States.
With 98 “yes” votes, Brown, who is the commander of Pacific Air Forces, will become the first black chief of a U.S. military service branch.
Vice President Mike Pence made a rare appearance in the upper chamber to preside over the vote, as the Washington Examiner reported.
President Trump tweeted a few minutes before the confirmation was official. “A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!” he said.
As Air Force chief of staff, Brown will have a seat in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Brown, who was commissioned back in 1984 as a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program at Texas Tech University, later became a commander of a fighter squadron.
According to his Air Force biography page, Brown has more than 2,900 flying hours, including 130 combat hours.
Prior to his current assignment, he served as the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.
Brown spoke about his experience in the Air Force as a black man and his thoughts about the recent death of George Floyd while in police custody, in an emotional video.
“I’m thinking about my Air Force career, where I was often the only African American in my squadron, or as a senior officer, the only African American in the room. I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers and then being questioned by another military member, ‘Are you a pilot?'”
He added, “My nomination provides some hope but also comes with a heavy burden. I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of the Air Force. I’m thinking about how I can make improvements, personally, professionally, and institutionally, so that all airmen, both today and tomorrow, appreciate the value of diversity and can serve in an environment where they can reach their full potential.”