Tag Archives: Washington

First sergeants are priceless assets to their units

By Master Sgt. Brian McFarland
92nd Medical Group

In the first few years of my Air Force career and more recently over my four-month tenure as an interim first sergeant, I’ve become increasingly familiar with a negative connotation associated with the position of the first sergeant.

More often than not, when I ask the question: “What’s the first thing you think of when you think of a first sergeant?” The responses I’ve received include, “trouble, discipline, problems, standards, and Article 15s.” The majority of these responses come from, but are not limited to first term Airman with less than one year on station.

If you were to reference AFI 36-2113, The First Sergeant, it’s there in black and white ink. Words like “disciplinary actions, standards and authority.” While all of these attributes are vital to the force and serve a very necessary purpose in each and every unit, squadron and group across the Air Force, that’s not all a first sergeant is about. A first sergeant is a priceless asset to the men and women in the unit he/she is assigned to.

First Sergeant

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, “asset” is defined as “a useful or valuable quality, person, or thing; an advantage or resource.” Every piece of Merriam-Webster’s definition of an asset correlates to an Air Force first sergeant and what they are to the Airmen, NCOs, senior NCOs and officers assigned to their respective unit. The unfortunate truth about the successes had by first sergeants is that nine out of 10 times, they occur behind closed doors and stay between the member requiring some level of assistance, their immediate supervisor and the “shirt.”

You may hear about the trouble going on in the squadron and the discipline as a result of it, or you may see the “shirt” correcting a dress and appearance issue on the spot, and you might know that if an active duty member goes to jail, it’s the first sergeant that gets the call and facilitates the member’s release. At first glance, the aforementioned examples seem to have negative connotations behind them. If you were to look a little deeper and “peel back the onion” on these situations, the positive effect of the first sergeant’s actions will be staring you square in the face.

So, when the first sergeant discussion takes place with a first term Airman, whom for the most part, has a blank active duty canvas eagerly waiting to be painted with positive Air Force images and memories, my challenge to you all is to mention the good in the same breath you mention the bad.

First sergeants work 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week for the members of their respective unit and should the phone ring at three in the morning on a Saturday, your “shirt” will answer, wipe the sleep out of his/her eyes, and provide you with whatever level of assistance you need to facilitate a positive outcome.

Take care of the mission first, take care of each other to build trust and an unbeatable team and take care of yourself with a personal commitment to be the best.

Veterans Day: reflecting on service, Air Force Memorial

By Tech. Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Veterans Day is near and dear to my family since many family members have served this nation across several service branches. I’ve attended many ceremonies and services at various locations over the years, but there is a place I have yet to visit on a military holiday – the Air Force Memorial.

Why would I want to spend Veterans Day visiting the Air Force Memorial specifically? It’s because my daughters are finally old enough to notice the details of the memorial and what they mean. It’s a visual representation of me and my husband’s Air Force service, and I’d really like to see the wonder in their eyes at seeing the memorial for the first time.

What I remember most about the first time I ever saw the memorial, was the way the three soaring, shiny stainless steel spires seem to rise up out of the trees when driving up to the memorial site. It was their graceful curvature that took me back to my childhood when I saw the Thunderbirds perform what’s known as the bomb burst maneuver.

I also remember a lot of the news that came out about the design and building of the memorial – some people liked the design while others were very vocal in saying how much they didn’t like it. What mattered to me was my service branch finally having a memorial for our Airmen that captures our mission – much like the Navy’s Lone Sailor Statue signifies the service of Sailors and the Marine Corps War Memorial embodies the courage and sacrifice of Marines.

The memorial is not just for the men and women serving in today’s Air Force but also those who served in early organizations like the Aeronautical Division and Aviation Section of the U.S. Signal Corps; the Army Air Service; the U.S. Army Air Corps; and the U.S. Army Air Forces among others. This is for all of America’s Airmen.

The memorial also features a bronze honor guard statue, which I also identify with – not as a ceremonial guardsman in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard – but as a young Airman allowed to participate as a member of the base honor guard at McChord Air Force Base, Wash.

The opportunities I had to render final honors for many who served in the Army Air Corps and some who served much more recently really opened my eyes to how much we owe to people who choose to join the ranks of those going off into the wild blue yonder for their country.

As a kid growing up in rural Ohio, I loved watching the crop dusters flying over local farms and enjoyed each chance I got to fly to Texas to visit my grandparents for summer vacations. I’m sure all that, my dad’s service in the Ohio Air National Guard, and my being born in San Antonio, home of the Gateway to the Air Force, played a part in my decision to join.

The Air Force memorial is more than just steel spires, bronze statues, granite walls or the glass contemplation wall honoring fallen Airmen. It shows the American people the spirit of its Airmen through the decades, represents our core values and recognizes the three components that make up our Total Force.

It is a legacy of American Airmen and airpower that I hope future generations, including that of my daughters, can look upon with awe as they remember the great feats we have accomplished and the leaders we have developed.

Photo: The Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., is the site of a dedication ceremony Oct. 14, 2006, at 9 a.m. Organizers braved the cooler afternoon temperatures Oct. 12 making final preperations for the dedication ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons)

2009 GI Film Festival

The 2009 GI Film Festival (GIFF) will take place in Washington, DC, from 13-17 May 2009.  This festival “is the first film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the American military through the medium of film.”

If you can’t make it to DC in May, but believe in supporting our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, sponsor an Airman soldier to send in your place:  www.gifilmfestival.com/sponsorasoldier.  This allows an Airman to attend and see these great films.  No other film festival in the nation shows such quality films that all honor the service and sacrifice of the American GI. Be sure to check out the GIFF blog as well. 

Any Airmen or other servicemembers out there who submitted a film? Let us know.