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Mr. Chase makes General Finan's stars
CALIMESA, Calif. – Mr. Delmar Chase, father of Air Force Global Strike Command Inspector General Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, crafts brigadier general’s stars at his home. Mr. Chase, a retired dental technician, has handmade an insignia for each rank for the general since she was a major. (Photo courtesy of the Chase family)
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'Making rank' has special significance for Global Strike general

Posted 6/15/2010   Updated 6/21/2010 Email story   Print story


by Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

6/15/2010 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- When Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan held her promotion ceremony here June 15, it gave new meaning to the expression "making rank."

General Finan's rank was made by her father, who crafted her metal general's stars at his home worktable. In fact, he's made one of every rank insignia for her since she made major.

"Knowing that Dad made the rank, it's always very special; very distinctive to have personalized rank as opposed to going to the store and buying them," said the general, who is Inspector General at Air Force Global Strike command headquarters here. "It's like taking a little piece of my parents with me everywhere."

General Finan's parents, Mr. Delmar and Mrs. Margaret Chase, of Calimesa, Calif., and her husband, Mr. Chuck Finan, pinned on that first set of general's stars, in the traditional promotion 'pin-on' ceremony at the Barksdale Club.

Mr. Chase said he wasn't sure he'd be making his daughter's rank for this promotion ceremony, because he had retired, and his equipment was "just stored all over the place," he said.

"But, then Chuck, her husband, talked to us and said, 'Sandy was wondering if you're going to make the stars,' and that did it right there... so I dug out everything and began the process."

Mr. Chase is a retired dental technician who "makes teeth, dentures and things like that" whose skills allowed him to fashion the rank insignia by hand, the general said.

"When I was promoted to major, my dad and mom thought it would be a nice thing to do for me to make my rank," General Finan said. "Dad knew how to do the castings... and so the two of them thought it would be special - and it is - to make my rank for me."

Her dad made her major's-insignia gold oak leaves out of 18-karat gold, she said. The new general's rank is made out of pure silver and plated with rhodium to keep the stars from tarnishing.

The general said her parents have been to every one of her promotion ceremonies, and the handmade rank makes the ceremonies all the better, she said.

Mr. Chase uses a 'lost wax technique' rarely used outside of dentistry. It works like this: for each rank General Finan provides her father a store-bought rank as a template, and he makes an impression of it in wax. Then the wax replica is put into a special 'investment' material, to harden. He transfers it to a furnace to burn out the wax, and the investment material is formed into the exact shape of the rank.

With a centrifugal-force casting machine, the metal is melted and swung into an empty mold. "When that is cooled, you have to break it all out and clean it up, leaving behind the metal rank," Mr. Chase said. The metal is then polished and shined to perfection.

He said the entire process takes the greater part of a day.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Chase said they couldn't be more proud of their daughter, and that being able to take part in her promotion ceremony "is very special."

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