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Airmen Experience First Sergeant Selection Process

Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base -- Ensuring Airmen are taken care of professionally and personally is the responsibility each individual; however, for a select group of senior non-commissioned officers, this is their primary job.

Air Force First Sergeants are the eyes and ears of a unit and serve as the commander's critical link for all unit matters concerning enlisted members.

"First sergeants are the right hand of commanders," said Chief Master Sgt. Johnny Smith, 161st Air Refueling Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. "They advise him on a wide range of topics including the health, esprit de corps, discipline and professional development of all assigned enlisted members, but they are also the right hand of the enlisted force; they're your people."

"First sergeants have to be ready, willing and able to get that call at 3 a.m. to go take care of someone," Chief Smith added. "A good first sergeant knows that this support helps airmen reach their full potential - at their very worst times, you have to be your very best."

"When selecting a first sergeant I look for someone who lives the core values and emanates the perfect airman," said Chief Smith. "When they need you, you need to be their best friend. The first sergeant should also be someone who has care and compassion, but can also enforce standards. You also have to have the integrity to not let past relationships within the Wing get in the way of leading."

Master Sgt. Dena Hallaren, 161st Maintenance Squadron first sergeant and recent graduate of the First Sergeant Academy, agreed saying, "It really starts from the beginning of your career - you have to set that standard from the outset. It is not something you can take lightly; it's a commitment, but also a calling."

Tech Sgt. Christopher Lechuga, 161 ARW Public Affairs broadcaster and first sergeant candidate said he prepared by gathering information. "I studied the Air Force Instructions on first sergeants, enlisted force structure and family care plans. I also met with the prior first sergeant of the maintenance squadron so that if I am selected I would be prepared to give the enlisted force my all."

Air Force Instruction 36-2113, The First Sergeant, outlines the process to become a first sergeant. To join the first sergeant ranks, the following minimum standards must be met:

-- Pass a fitness test
-- No past financial credit problems
-- Have no negative quality-force indicators
-- Be an E-7 upon attendance at the First Sergeant Academy
-- Ability to speak and write distinctly
-- Minimum ASVAB scores of 45 administrative and 62 general

Tech. Sgt. Georgine Gonzales, 161 ARW administrator and first sergeant candidate, was interested in the first sergeant career field because she believes that it is important to give the enlisted personnel a person they can go to in times of need, as well as a person they can look up to who lives and exemplifies the standards the Air Force.

Sergeant Lechuga said he was interested because, "It's my turn to give back. The 161 [ARW] has provided me with a lot of opportunities, from education and travel to general skill sets that I have utilized on and off base."

For more information on becoming a first sergeant, interested members are encouraged to talk to their squadron's first sergeant who can answer their basic questions about the career field.