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Pressure: What Makes a Diamond

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Story by A1C Gage Daniel on 04/18/2018
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico - "With everyone focused on the mission it leaves little time for anyone to be focused on the people supporting the mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Shakia Knight, the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. "First sergeants play a vital role in our Air Force and we are blessed to have them."

The role of a First Sergeant, also known as diamonds' and shirts,' is to boost morale, improve welfare, to oversee the enlisted members in a squadron and to be the chief adviser to the squadron commander concerning the enlisted force.

"Taking care of people is my number one priority," Knight said. "Sometimes it's to tell them good job and other times it's to let them know they messed up and to help them through that."

Because the first sergeants are responsible for a large number of people with varying backgrounds and issues, the position of a first sergeant is one that isn't particularly a piece-of-cake.

"Being a first sergeant is a walk in the park, said no first sergeant ever," said Senior Master Sgt. Gladston L. Hall III, the 27th Special Operations Air Maintenance Squadron First Sergeant. "I don't know what a normal day looks like. In two years I haven't had the same exact day twice."

With no two days alike and issues ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other many obstacles, seen and unforeseen, can hinder the work of a first sergeant making staying on track and even more difficult task.

"You never know what you're going to get," Hall said. "And sometimes you just aren't fully prepared to attack an issue to the best of your ability."

To be a successful first sergeant and combat the unexpected, preparation is crucial to succeeding, according to Knight.

"You've got to be flexible and able to adapt in order to handle the multitude of issues you may face as a first sergeant," Knight said. "You've got to take the bull by the horns in order to guide others to the best of your own ability."

There's more to being a first sergeant than disciplinary actions, according to Knight. They are there when someone needs or wants to talk, they visit families in the hospital, and help both active duty Airmen and their spouses through suicidal thoughts. They build relationships.

Being able to adapt to any given situation is just as crucial as preparation when it comes to being a first sergeant.

"You have to be open-minded and be ready for anything," Hall said. "You may not think someone's issue is a big deal but to them it is."[MCAMUA2SP3]

Being a first sergeant can affect a person in ways both expected and unexpected.

"It has made me non-judgmental," Hall said. "It's also changed my perspective on a lot of things."

In the end it's all of the hard work and effort that first sergeants exude and all of the pressure they're put under that makes them diamonds. It's not a title given, it's a title earned, according to Knight.

"At the end of the day it's not for everyone," Knight said. "But I love what I do because I get to make a difference."


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