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910th first shirts comprise AFRC’s top council

  • Published
  • By Eric M. White
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 910th Airlift Wing First Sergeant Council was recently named the Air Force Reserve Command’s Carol Smits First Sergeant Council of the Year for 2019. The first sergeant council is made up of the first sergeant from each of the 910th’s squadrons and the wing’s command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Chris Williams. Due to COVID-19 physical distancing measures, Air Force Reserve Commander Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee and Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White Jr., Air Force Reserve Command Chief Master Sgt., congratulated the council on a video conference.

First sergeants are identified by a blue diamond between their lower and upper rank stripes. They are typically hired into a squadron outside of their primary Air Force career field. Their purpose within the unit they serve is to take care of the squadron’s airmen by ensuring morale, readiness and good conduct and acting as a conduit between enlisted Reserve Citizen Airmen and their commanders.

Master Sgt. Thomas Beasley is the first sergeant of the 757th Airlift Squadron here.

“People are our business, and when you think about what we do as first sergeants, we leave our Air Force Specialty Code (primary career) for a time to take care of Airmen,” said Beasley, “and really that is our main job, to take care of airmen, and the construct of being within the commander’s intent.”

The council’s award nomination highlights examples of their efforts in taking care of Airmen during 2019.

Their projects included publishing an informational postcard to help link deployed members’ families with helping agencies.

The council helped revive the Rising Six organization, a group of junior enlisted members, linking senior non-commissioned officers with younger Airmen for mentorship and leadership development.

Master Sgt. Brian Barrett is the first sergeant of the 76th Aerial Port Squadron.

“Being a first sergeant in our squadron enables us to mentor our Airmen,” said Barrett, “whether they’re sergeants, whether they’re young Airmen, to advance their careers and basically make the Air Force a better place in the future.”

The first sergeant council also partnered with Airmen and Family Readiness on-base to package and deliver Thanksgiving meal baskets to 50 base families as a way of caring for Airmen.

“I think it’s important for my squadron to know that they have someone who cares about them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michele Mariacher, 910th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. “I think having that caring moment or even a simple thing like wishing them good luck on an Airman Leadership School test or dropping them a line to see how things are going, every Airman needs that once in a while. This is the best job I’ve ever had in the Air Force, and I’ve had a lot of great jobs.”

One of the highlights of the year, and a major bullet on the award package, was supporting the wing’s more than 150 deployers by working with other base agencies to host a call-a-thon. During the deployment, members of the first sergeant council made monthly calls to each deployer’s family to conduct wellness checks and gauge needs that the council could help meet.

“That was pretty vital to decreasing stress levels while deployed and helping our Airmen,” said Master Sgt. Skye Tancer, 910th Communication Squadron first sergeant.

The extent of the council’s work went well beyond Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

“We had first sergeants who went all over the place,” said Williams, “not just the installation, but out into the community and overseas, in some cases taking care of other first sergeants’ airmen.”

For Senior Master Sgt. Jessica Syverson, first sergeant of the 910th Operations Support Squadron, some of the most impactful things the council does are unseen by most personnel.

“Normally, when we do good things for our Airmen, they’re private, and we can’t discuss them,” said Syverson. “Winning this award is not about the award, it’s about the connections that we have with our Airmen, the piece when we walk into the room and people come to us with their problems; it’s almost like a credibility stamp.”

The culture of each squadron can and often does vary, especially in a deployed environment, but the 910th’s first sergeants strive to maintain a singular focus on the Airmen within their influence. Having climbed the ranks to become senior enlisted members of the Air Force Reserve, they often set their sights on ensuring younger Airmen are ready to take the torch when it’s passed to them.

“Part of what we’re charged to do is to train and prepare our next round of leadership so that whenever we have our first sergeants that return back to their career field or they go out into the air force and they take larger roles and increased responsibility,” said Williams, “then, we have that prepared force.”

The 910th Airlift Wing First Sergeant Council is a critical part of fulfilling the Wing’s mission statement: Combat ready NOW… for tomorrow’s fight!