Defender appreciation through the eyes of a First Sergeant

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Xavier Navarro
  • 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

A first sergeants’ role is to serve as the senior enlisted adviser to their unit commander. First sergeants take care of their Airmen and guide disciplinary actions when needed. The first sergeant of the 319th Security Forces Squadron is showing his appreciation to his defenders by performing different aspects of their career field.

Master Sgt. Stephen Middleton was formerly an RQ-4 Global Hawk crew chief for the 69th Maintenance Squadron in Grand Forks Air Force Base for three years.  Through his Air Force career, he has seen first sergeants who didn’t take care of their Airmen as they should, so he decided to be the one to change that. Originally, it wasn’t his goal to be a first sergeant, but now he’s been assigned to the 319th SFS for more than a year.

A normal duty day for defenders begins 45 minutes before their shift starts to get gear, weapons and briefed. They wear their 10 to 20 pounds of gear during the hot and cold seasons in Grand Forks.

Middleton said he loves Security Forces because he appreciates what his Airmen do. He has seen the disrespect his defenders sometimes receive from people, even other Airmen, when they are pulled over for a random vehicle inspection. He is impressed seeing his Airmen be professional in the face of opposition.

“They are just an extension of the wing commander’s policy,” said Middleton. “We need to treat them with respect.”

Some of the tasks he completed are military working dog bite training, shoot-move-and-communicate drills and checking identification cards as an installation entry controller.

“Even though I am not a big fan of dogs, I have to overcome some fears,” said Middleton. “Getting bit by a K-9 is going get my heart pumping, but this would be a small way of giving back and showing my appreciation of their job.”

Airman 1st Class Jordan Walton, 319th SFS installation entry controller, says he has seen Middleton out at the gate to interact with defenders and ask them how they are doing.

“I had a few personal problems, and he came to help me,” said Walton. “He takes care of us… if anything I would call him a Security Forces member.”

 “If you have a shirt who really cares and who has a fair amount of people in the squadron, it can be very exhausting,” said Middleton. “It’s all worth it when you get those ‘thank yous,’ and you see people doing good stuff. “