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First Sergeant’s Council hosts symposium at ASAB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daira Jackson
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

If Airmen ever wanted to know all that a first sergeant does and the responsibilities they hold, they had the chance at the First Sergeant Symposium that took place at the base theater March 7-9, 2022.

The symposium was for technical sergeants and master sergeants interested in becoming or learning more about becoming a first sergeant, also known as a “first shirt,” or additional duty shirt. Additional duty shirts fill in when a first sergeant is not available or help during activities where additional people are needed. 

“This symposium is very important because as an additional duty shirt, you're getting a taste of what a first sergeant does,” said Master Sgt. Marcus Boykin, president of the First Sergeant’s Council, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. “Having a symposium once a year or twice a year, exposes you to a first shirt on a daily basis, and what they do.”

Attendees at this annual event learn public speaking, leadership skills, the Article 15 process, awards process, effective bullet writing and Red Cross notifications—notifying family members when a casualty happens here.

“Anybody who's looking for something rewarding and not necessarily for advancement, though this position can be part of a career progression, the first sergeant is one that I have found rewarding as I've gone through my career,” said Senior Master Sgt. William Dean, first sergeant, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.

Speakers from Chaplain Corps, Mental Health and Legal presented information about each service.

“[Attendees] need to make sure that they're well versed on all the helping agencies, whether it be Mental Health, Chaplain Corps, Military OneSource,” said Tech. Sgt. Peter Flores, noncommissioned officer in charge of resources, Chaplain Corps, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. “In their new capacity, they need to be able to make that connection and to know what's available and the specific capabilities of each.”

One attendee said that she initially wanted to be a military training leader but wanted to do something bigger and better.

“This is my very first symposium,” said Investigator Alexis Nawai, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, who has worked with first sergeants a lot as an investigator. “I have aspired to be a First Sergeant since [I was] an Airman. I like to be on the other side of it as well and be able to help people. It is giving me more of a drive to want to go further and get that diamond.”

Another attendee was told by other shirts and her father, a retired shirt from the Air Force, that the best chiefs that he had worked with held a diamond rank.

“I want to be a chief,” said Tech. Sgt. Iliya Mendez, NCO of knowledge management, 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron. “I feel like in order to best support my triad, and to best support any first sergeant coming in, I will need to know all the ins and outs of what their duties are, in order to be the best chief that I can be and help as many people as I can.”

Service members who want to become a first sergeant, whose terms are limited to six years, can take their certificate of graduation and begin an additional duty for a first shirt either here or at home station.

“I will give advice to anybody who wants to become a first sergeant—remember to be receptive,” said Boykin. “We are certain that you're not appointed to be a perfect first sergeant. It's okay to not know something. However, the beauty of having a First Sergeant’s Council is it's a great resource, [because] we can count on each other. A lot of us have different personalities, strengths and weaknesses and will come together to help everybody out. That's something I hold dear to me. Once a diamond, always a diamond.”