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NEWS | July 24, 2015

Sailor becomes first Air Force SFS flight chief

By Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

A sailor assigned to the 628th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., became the first Navy Master at Arms to become an Air Force certified security forces flight chief.

Due to a dwindling number of certified flight chiefs, Petty Officer 1st Class Ethan Holland volunteered to participate in a 60 day certification to become one. He completed his training in June and is now in charge of an average of 16 people per shift to include Airmen and civilians who provide security programs throughout the installation.

Holland first arrived in Charleston in August 2014 and was assigned to the 628th SFS Harbor Patrol Unit protecting the waterways at the JB Charleston Weapons Station. After hearing about the need for certified flight chiefs he gave his leadership a call.

"When I made contact I was expecting to be a fill in or back up flight chief and I thought I was going to continue to work harbor patrol," Holland said. "To my surprise I became a fulltime flight chief."

During the  training period, Holland was tasked with learning every job a security forces defender, from E-1 to E-6, would need to know while on the job. He became proficient with entry controller, patrolman, Base Defense Operation Center controller and flight chief procedures and learned all operating instructions and Air Force Instructions associated with each position.

At the conclusion of the training, defenders are required to pass a test consisting of a written and verbal exam, weapons knowledge exam and a practical scenario test.

"The most stressful part about the training was the test," Holland said. "I was the first Sailor to take it and I didn't want to give the Navy a bad reputation."

Holland scored a 98 percent and is among the top 10 percent in the squadron for test scores.

As a flight chief, Holland has a long list of responsibilities to include leading, managing, supervising and performing force protection duties for all base personnel and resources. A top priority for him is ensuring Airmen protecting the base are well take care of, he said.

Captain Jonathan Blount, one of Holland's supervisors from the 628th SFS, said, "MA1 Holland's story is truly what the joint base concept was meant to do, bring multiple services together to do the mission."

Becoming the first Sailor to become an Air Force flight chief has opened the door to others who are interested in following in his footsteps. There are currently three Sailors at JB Charleston going through the flight chief training program.

"It's always a good feeling to know you are the first to do something," said Holland. "I would like to thank my Air Force counterparts who helped me throughout the qualification process. I couldn't have done it without their support."

According to Holland, the best part of the job is working with another branch to accomplish the mission.

"I've never been in charge of another branch's service members and working with the Air Force has been an honor," Holland added. "I've gotten to work with dedicated service members who always put the mission first. Charleston is a great place to be and I enjoy being a part of the 628th Security Force Squadron."