Vandenberg shirt keeps LRS working toward excellence

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Wesley Carter
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Standing in front of an Air Force first sergeant, or shirt, might not be the highlight of an Airman's career, however, what some might not understand is that it's not always easy for the first sergeant.

Nobody knows that better than Master Sgt. Angela Fernandez, the 30th Logistic Readiness Squadrons first sergeant.

"My job is people," Sergeant Fernandez said. "Everyone is my business, good or bad."

The Iowa native has been a shirt for two years and has dealt with life-changing highs and career ending lows.

"One day you could be congratulating an Airman for the birth of a child, while the next you would be helping an Airman understand that a bad decision is going to have consequences," she said.

The challenge for a first sergeant comes in the form of finding individual solutions for individual Airmen. People are not molded with a cookie cutter, which means that each person requires a different amount of mentoring. The trick is to figure out what is going to best serve the Air Force and the Airman in his career short and long term, Sergeant Fernandez said.

As many can imagine, being a first shirt can entail a lot of counseling and discipline, but a shirt's true joy comes when they get the opportunity to see an Airman succeed and be rewarded for it.

"You feel a sense of pride, it is almost a parental feeling," Sergeant Fernandez said. "In a lot of cases the young men and women you represent came straight out of their parent's house and into the Air Force. It becomes my job to give them the tools to become responsible Airmen."

Sergeant Fernandez has been stationed at Vandenberg for 10 years and has had the opportunity to be the first sergeant for the 30th Medical Group and LRS. As one could surmise, her time at Vandenberg didn't start with a diamond on her sleeve.

"In a lot of ways I feel like I grew up here," she said. "I came to Vandenberg as a staff sergeant and have worked my way up to become a first shirt. As a shirt, I feel I have finally found what I am meant to do."

She has been able to experience some of those high moments in her career, but she too has been face to face with her shirt as well. A situation that she believes has helped her understand more about her current position.

"Going to your shirts office is a lot like going to the principal's office," she said. "It can be very nerve racking, and at the time I didn't agree with what was going on, but now I understand it was about what is going to help me be successful."

Having a shirt that understands people is not only important to Airmen in the unit but also the unit's commander. A good shirt allows a commander to lead a unit on both large, and personal scales. In some situations making command decisions about the direction of a unit might be easier than a decision that will affect one Airman in the unit. A shirt allows the commander to make an informed decision.

"Sergeant Fernandez is my number one advisor and enforcer of unit standards," said Maj. Manuel Perez, the 30th LRS commander. "However, she is also the voice of my Airmen. I need to know what my Airmen are going through in order to be the best commander possible."

A teacher, instructor, advisor and confidant are all roles that a first sergeant takes on from a day-to-day basis. Sergeant Fernandez strives to meet both base and unit expectations, and focuses her efforts on relating to Airmen to help everyone, Airman, NCO's and commanders, to contribute with excellence to the Air Force. 

Sergeant Fernandez's next step will now be moving away from Vandenberg. She will be able to take her successes here and apply them to Airman at McCord Air Force Base, Wash.

"This is a job that I love," Sergeant Fernandez said. "I know wherever I go I am going to be able to interact with people and make a difference."