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A Day in the Life of a First Sergeant
 More of this Feature

• Dedication to the First Sergeant

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Day in the Life  
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• AF 1st Sgt Job Description
• Army 1st Sgt Job Description
• USMC 1st Job Description


My job is people -- Every One is My Business. I dedicate my time and energy to their needs; their health, morale, discipline, and welfare. I grow in strength by strengthening my people. My job is done in faith; my people build faith.

My job is people -- EVERY ONE IS MY BUSINESS.

That's the first sergeant's creed. That's what he or she strives for, every day. There are no enlisted personnel in the military with more authority, more responsibility, and a downright busier day than a first sergeant (Leading Chief Petty Officer in the Navy).

Some of the "complaints" a first sergeant hears most often are "I can never get hold of you," (untrue, as all "shirts" or "tops" carry a beeper or cell-phone with them 24 hours per day, 7 days per week), or "You're never in your office," (true, because a good first sergeant is out and about, being the eyes, ears, and mouth for the commander).

Let's walk a day in his/her shoes:

0230: The phone rings, jarring you from a too-short sleep, just when you had settled into that deserted tropical island in your dreams -- the favorite dream where it was just you, the beach, and no phones or pagers. You pick up the phone. It's the Security Police (Military Police) Desk. They're very sorry to disturb you (not really!), but they just picked up one of your troops on a drunk & disorderly, and minor in possession charge. It seems that the rocket-scientist thought it would be a lot of fun to streak around the barracks wearing just his girlfriend's panties. Unfortunately for him, his girlfriend didn't think it was funny, and locked him out of his room. (Editor's note: This scenario really happened -- Edwards AFB, 1987).

Air Force E-8 First Sergeant Insignia. Unlike the Army or Marines, where First Sergeants are always E-8s, Air Force First Sergeants can be E-7s, E-8s, or E-9s. AF First Sergeants are recognized by the diamond in the center of the stripes - Official DOD Photo

After grumbling that you'll be right there, you call the individual's supervisor to request that he meet you at the cop-shop. The supervisor responds that he really doesn't want to, as he has to be at work at 0700, and he got to bed late. Because you haven't had your first cup of coffee yet, you convince the supervisor, via a one-way-conversation that it would be advisable not only to meet you there, but to beat you there, as well.

You start the coffee, do a quick shave while the coffee is perking and put on your uniform. Although the phone call did not wake up your spouse (he/she has learned to sleep through them), you don't bother leaving a note. Your spouse knows, from long experience, where you've gone.

0300: You arrive at the cop-shop and meet the supervisor. You and the supervisor get briefed by the apprehending officer about the situation. You read a copy of the police report, and sign custody for the brain trust. You turn him over to the supervisor with instructions to make sure he gets to the dorm, into his room, and put to bed. You tell the supervisor you'll call him later in the morning with more instructions.

0330: You're up, you're dressed, so you figure you'll sneak into the office to catch up with some badly neglected paperwork.

0500: You're in the middle of reviewing performance reports, promotion rosters, decoration submissions, general correspondence, reenlistment recommendations, detail rosters, and other pieces of dead trees when your pager lets out a shriek. It's the Red Cross. Like always with the Red Cross, it's not good news: The father of one of your troops has passed away.

You call the supervisor at home and tell her about the situation. You inform her that you will notify the individual, and let her know about any emergency leave plans. You get into your car and drive to the individual's base housing unit. Fortunately, this turns out to be one of the "easier" situations. The individual has been in touch with his family and is already aware of the death. You express your condolences, and tell him and his family that you, the commander, and the unit are at their disposal for anything at all that you can do. You explain the emergency leave procedures, and ask him if he plans to travel home. The answer is yes, so you call your chief clerk and ask her to come in a begin preparing emergency leave paperwork. You inform the individual that the paperwork should be ready by the time he gets into the unit.

0600: You stop by the Chow Hall to get something for breakfast, and to do a "periodic check" on the quality of

Army First Sergeant Insignia. Army First Sergeants are special-selected Senior NCOs in the rank of E-8. - Official DOD Photo

food being supplied to your people. After filling your tray (fruit and toast -- you're not getting any younger, and running off those extra pounds is getting harder and harder each day), you find a table that some of your troops are sitting at. For the next 45 minutes you sit and chat with them about this, that, and everything, giving advice and answering questions about regulations, policy, pay, leave, work hours, etc.

0700: You arrive back at the unit and proceed to the commander's office to brief him on the morning's events. The commander decides to go with an Article 15 for the drunk streaker. On the way out, you stop by the commander's secretary to make an appointment for tomorrow with the commander for you, the supervisor, and the individual concerned to begin the Article 15 process (the whole process will actually take three separate meetings, spaced out over five or six days).

0730: You return to your office and sign the emergency leave paperwork. You telephone the legal office and instruct them to prepare the Article 15 paperwork. You then telephone the folks at the Drug & Alcohol center and make a referral appointment for the brain-trust. You call the supervisor to let him know about tomorrow's appointment and the appointment for the alcohol abuse referral. You call the supervisor of the individual going on emergency leave, and let her know about the individual's plans. You then instruct your chief clerk to make sure she picks up the Article 15 paperwork. from the legal office later in the day.

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