Air Force Chief of Staff Reveals Bell’s Palsy Diagnosis

Gen. David Goldfein delivers his presentation on Air Force Innovation at the 2018 Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando on Feb. 23, 2018. Screen capture from a Defense Media Activity video
Gen. David Goldfein delivers his presentation on Air Force Innovation at the 2018 Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando on Feb. 23, 2018. Screen capture from a Defense Media Activity video

ORLANDO -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein was frank with airmen when he announced he has not only been battling fatigue after a recent trip to the Pacific, but also a diagnosis of Bell's palsy.

"Chief, what's the crooked face, and the weird speech?" Goldfein quoted airmen during his speech here at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium.

He said he woke up Feb. 17 with the condition, which is paralysis of one side of the face resulting from nerve trauma. It's temporary and medically treatable.

"I'm on the mend, and it only hurts you when I laugh," he said, adding that Gen. Curtis LeMay also had Bell's palsy while he was the Air Force chief of staff.

LeMay hid his problem by smoking cigars on the left side of his mouth. Goldfein brought a cigar with him, and projected a photo of himself with a cigar, making the audience erupt in laughter.

He said he wants to be up-front with airmen so his message about the future of the force could be heard regardless of his temporary facial paralysis.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana.pawlyk.

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