U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. David Haynes, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, shares his work experience during a first sergeant panel while at a First Sergeant Symposium at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 30. The symposium was attended by 103 NCOs from the around the Air Force that were interested in becoming a first sergeant or are currently assigned the first sergeant tasks as an additional duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young/Released/Released)
U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Maury Turner, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant, briefs attendees at a first sergeant symposium at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 30. The symposium was attended by 103 NCOs from the around the Air Force that were interested in becoming a first sergeant or are currently assigned the first sergeant tasks as an additional duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young/Released)
by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
9/5/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Noncommissioned officers from around the Air Force gathered at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., for a first sergeant's symposium Aug. 27-30.
The symposium was attended by 103 NCOs who were interested in becoming a first sergeant or are currently assigned first sergeant tasks as an additional duty.
While here, the attendees learned of the duties associated with the job and got advice from many first sergeants already wearing the first sergeant diamond on their sleeve.
"I wanted to get more information on the duties and responsibilities of being a first sergeant, and I feel that I've learned a lot while being here," said Master Sgt. Kate Harris, a native of Freeborn, Minn., currently assigned to the 20th Communications Squadron network control center.
Popular topics discussed were the relationships between superintendents, commanders and first sergeants in addition to development and disciplinarian actions for Airmen.
"I haven't been involved in the rehabilitation process of a lot of Airmen; therefore learning all the avenues of punishment as well as counseling and the relationship between the first sergeant and the commander have been very enlightening to me," added Harris.
The class was designed so that any NCO could benefit from the list of topics covered in lectures during the week.
"The information shared here isn't first sergeant specific, although a lot of it deals with what first sergeants do," said Senior Master Sgt. Stan Cadell, 9th Air Force and U.S. Forces Central first sergeant a native of Caseyville, Ill. "This symposium is really good for any senior NCO or NCO; you can learn a tremendous amount. We have people attending that aren't necessarily looking to be a first sergeant, but are attending for professional development."
Sixty of the attendees were from Shaw, while another 43 came from as far as Australia to participate in the event.
"I didn't know the scope of responsibilities of the first sergeant job until I attended this course," said Master Sgt. Danekia Leshon Wells, a medic currently filling the role as first sergeant for Detachment 1, 566th Intelligence Squadron, data mass. "My interaction in the past with first sergeants has been very limited; therefore the majority of everything I'm learning is new to me. I've learned what the job is, what you're responsible for and what your scope is."
Many of the participants also had the chance to learn from scenarios and others currently working in the field.
"Without this symposium, I would've had to rely solely on my squadron first sergeant," added Wells. "My actual unit first sergeant is located at Buckley AFB, Colo. and the time difference between there and Australia makes it much more difficult to gain the information that I need for the job. Here, I'm getting the information that I need and interacting with actual first sergeants and can hear their experiences."
Instructors from the First Sergeant Academy typically go to bases to instruct classes, but this year there was a change due to budgets and economic conditions, the academy has provided local bases with the information and let them instruct the classes, according to Cadell.
Cadell has been a first sergeant for seven years but didn't attend a symposium like this prior to becoming one. Given his experience he says it is advantageous for all senior NCOs to attend one as they develop in their careers. The class can be something that helps a person decide whether this is the right job for them.
"The symposium is a great thing for anyone and it might help inspire some new first sergeants or at least give our NCOs some new tools," added Cadell.