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NEWS | Aug. 18, 2015

A diamond in the rough

By Master Sgt. Jeremy Klemme 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant

"A diamond doesn't come out of the mine looking like that!"  This is something my chief said recently and I was lucky enough to hear it.  This simple comment spurred some deep thought about my time here at Joint Base Charleston as a first sergeant and how I arrived to this position in life. 

Nobody is instantly ready to put on the diamond and become a first sergeant.  He or she must be groomed and polished just like the carbon found in the caves of Africa..  A first sergeant is specially selected to become the dedicated focal point for enlisted issues within their units.  The responsibilities of first sergeants are extensive; fostering health, morale and welfare of the enlisted force. These are key duties  but not all inclusive.  We balance morale and discipline to ensure good order is upheld.  We also mentor, oversee recognition programs and interpret the commander's policies and goals for our members, who ultimately accomplish the mission.   Whether home station or deployed, we work with other agencies to ensure member's needs are met.  You will rarely attend an event without seeing your first sergeant.  Most of us take on this herculean task while balancing the responsibility of family and our own personal endeavors.   With all these responsibilities, how does one prepare for this job?     

I believe I figured it out and it's just like the chief said, a diamond doesn't make it to  the jewelry store without many, many hands touching it.  When you come into the Air Force the first supervisor takes you under his or her wing.  They groom and mold you into what the Air Force needs ... good Airmen.  Next, you transition into a supervisory role where again, you are still being groomed and molded but begin to learn that it's not all about you anymore.  Finally, as you transition to the SNCO corps, you naturally assume the role of coach and inspirer.  The only way  our future force is going to be successful is if we mold and groom our successors.  For those few who have the audacity to believe they can be even better, have the drive to be the best at everything and possess the propensity for compassion ... they become first sergeants! 

First sergeants can help you decipher complicated issues and will be the first to go jump up and down on someone's desk to ensure you get the support you need.  We will be there to mourn with you in your time of loss and joyous when you bring new life into the world.  As my time of being a shirt comes to an end, I have reflected on this position and the Airmen I've had the privilege to lead, mentor and serve.  It has meant the world to me to be able to serve in this capacity for the last several years and the diamond I wore on my sleeve is representative of all of those people who helped get me to where I am today.  I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by great leaders. Without the same type of transformational shaping real diamonds receive to become "Zale's" ready, I wouldn't be the first sergeant and leader I am today.