SHCRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The position of first sergeant has a rich history and legacy in the Air Force and has become an indispensable part of Air Force culture.
Although some may see them as just an authoritarian or a disciplinarian, there is much more to being a first sergeant.
The first sergeant position is in place to oversee the morale, welfare and conduct of all the enlisted members in a squadron and is the chief adviser to squadron commander concerning the enlisted force.
According to many Airmen within the 4th Space Operations Squadron, Senior Master Sgt. Justin Halterman, first sergeant with the 4th Space Operations Squadron. They have never met a first sergeant as selfless, driven, or motivated as Halterman.
“I feel a sense of fulfillment when someone trusts me with their bad day and I get to help them to a better tomorrow,” said Halterman. “The people in our Air Force are amazing and so committed, I come to work every day and try to make Airmen's tomorrows better.”
Tech. Sgt. Antonio Tirado, communication systems operator with the 4th Space Operations Squadron’s initiative bolstered the bond between him and Halterman.
“When I found out he took on the task to build the 4th SOPS heritage room bar table, I figured I'd call him and offer my help, thinking it'd be a great opportunity to get to know him better and do what I love, which is woodworking,” Tirado said.
They spent many hours working on the project together, in which Tirado says he grew to respect his first sergeant and learned they shared a common interest.
“He exuded a level of confidence, character and capability that peaked my interest. From that point, unbeknownst to him, I assigned him as my mentor,” he continued.
Tirado says he found himself seeking advice from Halterman and leaving more motivated and confident than he was before.
“Going to him with a simple question always meant leaving with a deeper understanding of so many factors that you didn't even know existed,” he explained. “He'd sit you down, grab a clean sheet of paper from his printer, write some stuff down, then turn it around to show you visual aides to help you absorb the mind-melting, thought-inducing, life-changing advice that he was about to drop on you.”
Even amongst his peers, Halterman is seen as the model senior noncommissioned officer, who is constantly mentoring up and down the chain of command.
“No matter how crazy or one-off a situation he encounters, I have not seen him be stumped to date,” said Master Sgt. Carter Bryan, operations flight chief, 4th Space Operations Squadron.” In the year I have worked with him, I have definitely learned lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my career in the Air Force and beyond.
Halterman is known to go above and beyond more than most would to help Airmen under his charge according to Senior Airman Eric Heimermann, mobile operator, 4th Space Operations Squadron. Heimermann was going through a hard time when Halterman came to the rescue.
“There was a lot going on with me at that time. Work and home were challenging and I lost someone extremely close to me. Senior Master Sgt. Halterman was with me every step of the way,” Heimermann said. “You could tell he was genuine and cared. His actions made a huge impact on me.”
Although Halterman has moved on to be the 50th Operations Group first sergeant, he is still impacting those he left at 4th SOPS.
“In the brief time we had together, he was and still is an awesome mentor and I would count him as a friend,” said Heimermann. You can see his motivation and beliefs in his actions. He’s the type of Airman you want to emulate.”
Halterman looks forward to his future of helping Airmen succeed.
“My energy is replenished by having the opportunity to coach Airmen every day,” he said. “Each bit of energy spent today is an investment in our team so that we can come to work stronger, happier and overall in a better place tomorrow.”