A brand new Diamond
By Master Sgt. Brian Hickey, 460th Space Wing
/ Published March 05, 2012
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As a young Airman, avoiding the First Sergeant was high on my to-do list. So high in fact that I only spoke with the Shirt at my first unit once--during my in-processing. I'll freely admit that the First Sergeant terrified me. I did everything in my power to ensure that I never heard the words, "We need to go see the Shirt." None of my supervisors ever said that sentence to me, and I thought that I was on point.
Now, fast forward a few years, and I'm in Airman Leadership School. I was motivated, and I couldn't wait to become a supervisor. Throughout the course, my instructor kept saying, "Your First Sergeant can help you with this." I heard that over and over again. "Seriously? Did I hear that right?" I thought to myself. I was shocked at the fact that I was hearing the words First Sergeant and help in the same sentence.
The day after I graduated ALS, I became the supervisor of three Airmen. Needless to say that it was a very short time before I had to be the one who said, "We need to go see the Shirt." When it happened, it wasn't a very pleasant experience. In fact, it went almost exactly the way that I imagined that it would go. It would be an understatement to say that there was a significant amount of yelling. In fact, the 15 minutes that I spent in the Shirt's office that day kind of reminded me of the moment when I first arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas for Basic Military Training.
Shortly thereafter, one of my Airmen came to me with a personal problem that I wasn't sure how to address. In the back of my mind I heard my ALS instructor say, "Your First Sergeant can help with this." I decided that I didn't have anything to lose, so I went and saw the Shirt. This encounter was completely different than the last one. This time he was calm and patient. He understood that I was a brand new supervisor and took the time to mentor me. He could have just told me what I needed to do, and sent me on my way, but he didn't. He guided me and helped me be the one to determine the correct course of action. This happened several more times with many different issues.
When I think back to the times that I spent in my First Sergeant's office, I do so fondly. Not only did he have an impact on me, but more importantly, he had an impact on all of the Airmen that I supervised. In fact, even though he is retired, his impact continues to this day. I still think about the advice that he gave me. I have no doubt that he helped me become a better supervisor.
Fast forward several more years, when I just found out that I made Master Sergeant. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. Literally, within minutes of hearing the news, I started thinking about my old Shirt and becoming a First Sergeant myself. The next morning, my mind was made up. I decided that it was time to pay it forward, and I was going to do it. A few days later, I began the application process.
Now that I'm a First Sergeant I sometimes have to participate in the discipline process of an individual, but I find that helping people through tough decisions and situations can be very rewarding. I am now a new First Sergeant and I can honestly say that it was the best decision that I ever made.