My feelings for you are forever

  • Published
  • By CMSgt. Atticus C. Smith
  • Command Chief, 388th Fighter Wing
Because days come and go but my feelings for you are forever. Fans of the rock band Papa Roach probably recognize those words due to their hit song Forever but this article has nothing to do with the band. The words remind me of my feelings for a person I spent two years of my life with over two decades ago. Who had such an effect on me? Many would assume with the words feelings and forever I'd be referring to a special girl, but I'm proud to say it's a very special man, my first supervisor Staff Sergeant Scott Redder.

It took roughly 500 paces to proudly march down the "bomb run" at Lackland AFB, and then my life's journey began. The immature, scared, and timid eighteen year old boy found himself headed off to the distant land of Alaska. To say the least, nervous energy mounted.

I arrived early on my first work day, and my flight chief introduced me to Sergeant Redder. Sergeant Redder worked mid-shift so he already completed a full day's work but that didn't stop him from spending a couple of hours with me. He didn't leave until he was confident I was completely ready to in-process. The next few days mirrored my first and eventually I transitioned to mid-shift. It wasn't long before I realized that Sergeant Redder had a strong work ethic. No sitting around or screwing off, we would get our turnover from swing shift and he'd set the expectations. Often he'd squeeze in an extra dose of upgrade training or at least "plant the seed" because he knew it wouldn't be long until I'd be trained on the task. Sometimes my job entailed menial tasks such as buffing the hangar floor, taking out the trash, or cleaning the restrooms, but it always seemed Sergeant Redder helped in some fashion.

As the weeks and months passed I realized that I was more than Sergeant Redder's "troop." He instilled in me that I was an extension of him; that we were teammates, and in all of our actions we had to represent each other well. I wasn't merely a means to an end...just someone to get the mission done; I mattered to him personally and professionally. He may not have done everything right as a supervisor, but he sure cared.

Sergeant Redder had high standards and held me accountable to meet them. He ensured I understood how my efforts contributed to the overall mission. He asked questions and was genuinely concerned about my personal life. He was aware of who I hung out with and what I did while off-duty. He took the time to know me. He went "to bat" for me. He was quick to pat me on my back for a job well done; however, if my behavior didn't bring credit upon our profession he led with the tip of his boot. In short, he was close enough to me to feel my heartbeat but not too close that he couldn't provide me the discipline that I certainly needed.

From the very first day I met my first supervisor he had two hands on my shoulders. He provided me the direction, discipline, and recognition that I needed to become a valuable member of the Air Force, and ultimately society.

On August 19, 2010, the Air Force selected 13,518 Airmen for promotion to staff sergeant, many of whom will become supervisors if they aren't already. Consequently, our newest staff sergeant-selects will be responsible for an exceedingly greater number of Airmen. These selects, as well as all first line supervisors shouldn't underestimate the opportunity they have to positively influence an Airman's personal and professional life.

At the end of two years Sergeant Redder let go of me as I traversed on a new path. The scared and timid young boy was now a much more confident young man who was grateful to serve alongside a supervisor that was dedicated to my personal and professional development. The days have come and gone, but Sergeant Redder has been and forever will be a part of all my experiences. If you stare closely at my stripes you will see Staff Sergeant Redder staring back at you. He shaped the person I am today and I can't thank him enough for taking the time to care about me.

Bring credit and honor to the United States Air Force and take care of each other in all your actions.