A first sergeant's job is never done
By Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester, 509 Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 14, 2014
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Whenever an Airman needs help with their personal well-being or requires counseling or guidance for not living up to the core values, they come to the person with the diamond on his or her chevrons.
Master Sgt. Trapper Otto, 509th Security Forces Squadron's first sergeant, is one of these "diamond sharp" individuals.
Originally a hydraulics technician, the South Dakota native and military brat has been stationed in Japan, the United Kingdom and Korea. Though he was not a first sergeant during any of these assignments, he desired to help out fellow Airmen and become a first sergeant at Whiteman.
"I became a first sergeant because I enjoy working with people," Otto said. "I've had a positive influence with one of the first sergeants in my past and I want to be able to have that effect on the members that I would have the opportunity to do that for."
U.S. Air Force first sergeants are responsible for the morale, welfare and personal well-being of the enlisted members of their respective squadrons. Each squadron or unit on base has a first sergeant who normally holds the rank of master, senior master or chief master sergeant.
These senior enlisted Airmen serve as chief advisers to their squadron commanders concerning their units' enlisted force.
"We simply advise supervisors and the commander on what actions to take to provide fair and equitable treatment across the board," Otto said. There are many different situations Airmen can find themselves in such as work-related, financial and even personal relationships problems, and it is important for Otto be easy-going and personable.
One of the biggest challenges to deal with as a first sergeant is dealing with the ever-changing dynamics of Airmen, Otto said.
"When most senior non-commissioned officers came in the Air Force we did not have the technology that is out there today," Otto said.
"This is a challenge as we try to get the newer and younger Airmen to get out of their dorms and away from their video games to see what there is to do out in the community and the world."
Despite the challenges that accompany the title of first sergeant, helping out just one Airman makes the job extremely rewarding.
"If someone comes to me with a problem, no matter how small it may seem to me and how quick we can fix it, it is the most important event in their life right now so we take it as serious as anything else and help them through that tough time," Otto said. "It is rewarding to see their relief and gratitude when you are able to help them with whatever they are going through."