Meet Protocol Professional Rhonda McMichael!

PSOW Staff - Sunday, March 23, 2014

What is your proudest moment as a protocol officer? While serving as the Protocol Manager, assigned to First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), Tyndall AFB, Florida in Oct 2012, I was tasked to escort the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Mark A. Welsh, III while at Tyndall AFB. The significance of this task was that I had been assigned under “Colonel” Welsh at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 15 years prior to this meeting, when I was just starting my Air Force career. Being able to reengage with General Welsh in the capacity of lead protocol officer has definitely been the highlight of my career thus far.


Why do you love protocol? In the military, protocol is based on precedence and a code of conduct or behavior that has defined our procedures for ceremonies, events and basic courtesies influencing how individuals interact during a multitude of occasions. Protocol is used every day, despite many denying its existence. Specifically, I love military protocol because of the customs, courtesies and history embedded in the procedures we use today. The fact that my efforts and actions make lasting impressions on how my organization or government is viewed and the impact I have on how events will be conducted in the future, provides me an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. Knowing how to act and react in different social or official settings can make or break extremely fragile relationships between US officials and dignitaries visiting from other countries. It is the attention to detail that many never notice but when noticed by the one person it matters to, it means the world. It is that one person that I strive to impress. 

Why should others love protocol? I believe everyone should strive to understand and master protocol; it can make a difference in your life, both good and bad. Whether making good eye contact, shaking hands or making small talk within your company, neighborhood, or on an airplane, protocol could create the break you are looking for to advance your career. You never know who might be watching. 

What do you wish you would have known when you were a “newbie”? Although the magnitude of information that creates a successful protocol officer exists to be researched and followed, it’s the fine details that can’t be found in an instruction manual that make all the difference. It’s the ability to interact and react in every situation that makes you a master; that information that is brought on by experience; practice, patience and observation. 

Rhonda McMichael
Protocol Officer, United States Army

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