A day in the life of a first sergeant

  • Published
  • By Capt. Genieve David
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
"There is never a dull moment," said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Martin, first sergeant for the 388th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. Phone calls at awkward hours in the night, dealing with personnel issues, roll calls, and usually the first one in the office and last one out--this is just a glimpse into the day in the life of a first sergeant.

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Martin entered the active duty Air Force in May 1985 as a supply troop. Twenty two years later, he now is in his seventh year as a first sergeant and currently serving the 388th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. He was first inspired to become a first sergeant by one of his own first sergeants at Tinker Air Force Base, Oka.

The level of stress in this job is obvious, which is exactly why the Air Force requires people who fill this position to have a high level of competency, energy, motivation and the ability to communicate effectively. On any given day, a first sergeant can deal with issues ranging from housing, physical fitness, family care plans, urinalysis testing, promotions, enlisted performance feedbacks/reports, and meetings with leadership just to name a few.

On this particular morning, in the day in the life of this native New Yorker first sergeant, or as they are commonly named first shirt, Sergeant Martin began his day, coffee in hand, by meeting with his fellow first sergeants on the base.

Together they discussed Airmen issues, volunteer opportunities, and important information to relay to their Airmen within their respective organizations.

"Having a positive effect on the individuals you work with may very well have a lasting effect in a squadron, base or in the Air Force," said Sergeant Martin. "That's a very satisfying feeling."

During one of his chaotic points in his day, he had his cell phone in his right hand and an office phone in the left, and all the while, a line of enlisted maintenance troops beckoning his door in hopes to steal 10 minutes of his time.

As a vital link between the commander, enlisted Airmen, and support agencies, Sergeant Martin ensures more than 550 Airmen, within the 388 EMS, understand the commanders priorities and goals and ensures support agencies are responsive to the needs of his people.

"The main thing is to provide a ready enlisted force for the mission," said Sergeant Martin. "We need to ensure that we have a disciplined, physically and mentally fit force ready to deploy for the commander."

Sergeant Martin reflects on one of his best experiences as a first sergeant during a bare base deployment to an undisclosed location after Sept. 11.

"We were packing our bags that day," said Sergeant Martin. "We knew we were going, we knew it was a terrorist attack, but we didn't know who did it, who was involved and why. It was a very uncertain time."

Because of this experience, he recognized the importance of a first sergeant in a deployed location and understood that stress levels can run high in these types of environments.

"Discipline can break down quickly in austere locations," he said. "People have a tendency to get angry quickly maybe due to family issues back home ...it is my job to adhere and impress upon the Airmen the standards our commanders or the deployed environment gives us."

It was a steady flow of personnel issues that sprouted like weeds in a yard. Like a blunt and honest investigative reporter, Sergeant Martin delved deeply during phone calls and counseling sessions to help Airmen and their supervisors understand past actions and motivations versus standards and outcomes. On this particular day, Sergeant Martin dealt with issues ranging from family dynamics and communications during a divorce with children involved, NCO values and standards, Article 15 proceedings and deployed family issues.

"Having the opportunity to pass on various supervisory skills I've learned during my career to the younger generation of supervision is a great feeling.

"Be yourself," said Sergeant Martin regarding aspiring first sergeants. "Be real with the people you deal with, and don't forget where you came from, which means, airman basic for many of us."

This article is a first in a series of articles based on the day in the life of...