The vital role of “Shirt”
By Chief Master Sgt. Kristina P. Keck, 129th Rescue Wing Command Chief
/ Published March 26, 2009
MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- In the Air Force, a unique special duty opportunity exists for immediately promotable Technical Sergeants or Master Sergeants to step outside his or her career field and into a position where they can take leading Airmen to a new level. The job isn't an easy one; it's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and yet one of the most fulfilling positions a senior enlisted Airman can hold in the Air Force.
The job is First Sergeant! Key advisor to the commander on enlisted matters, the First Sergeant ensures the safety, morale and welfare of enlisted Airmen and their families. This duty is vital to our ability to develop and care for our most precious asset - our Airmen.
First Sergeants have a rich and proud heritage. This position--more commonly referred to as the "Shirt" or "First Shirt"--has been around since the beginning of the Army Air Corps. The original First Sergeants were given the tasks of training, ensuring duties were properly accomplished and all soldiers were accounted for in their quarters. They were the linchpin of the unit.
The official rank began in the Air Force as a position versus a rank when we separated from the Army Air Corps. The duty existed in the administrative functions of the unit and was more personnel clerk than key leader.
With the creation of the E-8 and E-9 "super grades," the duties were further expanded. Air Force senior leaders later clarified policies and established the authority and prestige of this vital position. A First Sergeants academy was later opened to offer education and training to enhance specific skills associated with first sergeants' duties.
In 1961, First Sergeants became a separate career field. The role of the first sergeant has evolved over the years, but one thing remains the same; the Shirt is the glue that binds a unit together.
The 129th is currently looking for these uniquely qualified NCOs who are extremely motivated to make a difference. This key leadership position in an organization should not go unfilled - the morale, welfare and health of our Airmen is at stake.
Application instructions appear elsewhere in this newsletter, and Details about an information workshop during April's drill will be in your UTA schedule. The selection boards will be held during the May or June drill.
As I was choosing my wordsfor this article, I wrestled with whether or not I should highlight the units involved, and ultimately decided against it, because I didn't want otherwise qualified applicants to avoid applying because of thoughts like "it's not my unit" or "I don't know what they do over there."
This kind of thinking doesn't have a place in the First Sergeant selection process. Because First Sergeants have their own career field, previous unit experience doesn't apply when compared to the other prerequisites needed to succeed in this position.
I work closely with the First Sergeants, and they are part of my leadership team. If you are qualified and want to make a difference, please consider applying. You won't regret it.
Become a First Sergeant and lead from the front! Here's your chance:
Three First Sergeant positions are currently available! An applicant must be a Technical Sergeant (eligible for immediate promotion to Master Sergeant) or a Master Sergeant, have an ASVAB score of 43 General or 62 Admin, and have a running fitness score of 75 or higher. The application must include:
- Letter of intent
- Current RIP
- Endorsement letter from your commander
- Current fitness report
Completed packages are due no later than April 30, 2009, and should be submitted to:
PO Box 103
Mail Stop 25
Moffett FAF, CA 94035
For questions or more information, contact Command Chief Master Sgt. Kristina Keck, at 650-603-9202 or 650-224-3228.