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First sergeants take care of Airmen

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Master Sgt. Annette Sisseck, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, left, advises Senior Airman Veronica Watson, 62nd Maintenance Operations Squadron, on an administrative matter. Sergeant Sisseck has been a first sergeant for four and a half years. As a 62nd MXS first sergeant, she watches over more than 500 Airmen. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tyler Hemstreet)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Master Sgt. Annette Sisseck, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, left, advises Senior Airman Veronica Watson, 62nd Maintenance Operations Squadron, on an administrative matter. Sergeant Sisseck has been a first sergeant for four and a half years. As a 62nd MXS first sergeant, she watches over more than 500 Airmen. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tyler Hemstreet)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The tell-tale diamond symbol on the sleeve of a first sergeant's uniform carries with it a reputation that is well-known throughout the Air Force. 

"Everyone recognizes that symbol," said Master Sgt. Annette Sisseck, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, who's been a first sergeant for four and a half years. 

Whether she's walking through the halls of Bldg. 1197 or on a temporary duty assignment at another base, Sergeant Sisseck said she is routinely approached by Airmen asking for assistance on a wide range of topics. 

"That's the great thing about this career field, we can help Airmen everywhere," she said.

Sergeant Sisseck has worked as a first sergeant in several other squadrons. 

The opportunity to work with Airmen from a variety of backgrounds has given her a wealth of experience to draw from each time she faces a new challenge, she said. 

The knowledge acquired by working in different squadrons has also given first sergeant of 13 years Chief Master Sgt. John Korzenko, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the opportunity to see the Air Force from a broader perspective and the different challenges each squadron faces, he said. 

The unique perspective of knowing how the squadrons on base work gives Chief Korzenko more tools to help his Airmen tackle anything that comes their way, he said. 

"It also gives you a good view of how all of the pieces fit together," he said. 

The wide array of experiences and knowledge gives first sergeants all the tools they need to keep a close eye on the morale in their units and deal with any disciplinary issues that come up, said Sergeant Sisseck. 

Although dealing with the disciplinary and legal issues some Airmen face is never a pleasant task, the first sergeant's job is to make sure the commander knows about everything as soon as it happens, she said. 

It's also the first sergeant's duty to help Airmen through those trying times and be there for them, she said. 

"Once something has happened, we also help Airmen figure out what the next step is for them," Sergeant Sisseck said. 

There is a great deal of fulfillment that comes with first sergeants being able to help young Airmen having difficulty adapting to life in the Air Force, said Chief Korzenko. 

"It's neat to be able to be someone who can help change a life," he said. 

"It's great when we get a chance to intervene and help the ones having trouble become more productive Airmen and see them turning [their lives] around." 

Besides helping Airmen change for the better, first sergeants get to share in their Airmen's good times as well, said Sergeant Sisseck. 

One of her favorite experiences happened while she was on a deployment in Baghdad, Iraq. 

Sergeant Sisseck got the privilege of being the first person to tell an Airman that he had become a father, she said. 

Seeing Airmen succeed in their jobs and win awards are some of the best aspects of the job, Chief Korzenko said. 

"I really enjoy getting Airmen something that they need [in the dorms] or something that has the chance to greatly improve their quality of life," he said.