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NEWS | March 25, 2017

Symposium shines light on first sergeant special duty

By Airman 1st Class Kevin West Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

When Airmen see a diamond centered on a chevron several thoughts may come to mind, including; morale, discipline, duty, experience, knowledge.


First sergeants dedicate themselves to the needs of Airmen including their health, morale, discipline and welfare. Attendees of the biannual First Sergeant Symposium here learned what it takes to earn that diamond and what it means to become a first sergeant during, March 22-24.


One of the speakers of the event, Master Sgt. Angela Bergerstock, 437th Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant, discussed the obstacles that come with serving every Airman in her squadron.


“Challenging is not having the answer when you desperately need one,” said Bergerstock. “It is challenging to not always have the correct answer. It is not black and white and that is frustrating in a world where we grow up with regulations and AFIs. The gray space challenges me.”


The 115 hours of academics the U.S. Air Force First Sergeants Academy provides senior NCOs with the knowledge to better serve commanders on issues impacting Airmen. Master Sgt. Timothy Wheelis, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, explained how that experience helped him better serve the people in his squadron.


“Being that positive role model for somebody else to see that you can still have fun in the Air Force and follow all of the rules is rewarding to me,” said Wheelis. “Be the example for your young Airmen.”


The purpose of events like this one is to not only teach additional duty first sergeants what it means to fill the role, but also to share knowledge with those who might be interested in wearing a diamond of their own one day.


For one Airman in attendance, the course reaffirmed his decision to pursue becoming a first sergeant.


“I like people and I want to see them succeed,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Davis, 628th Civil Engineer Squadron horizontal shop NCO in charge. “These classes made me feel like this was the right choice for me. When I joined the military one of my first sergeants was really good and I always wanted to be one. This was a great opportunity for me.”