MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Air Force’s First Sergeant Academy graduated its largest class to date on April 30, 2021, on Maxwell Air Force Base’s Gunter Annex.
Class 21-D consists of 104 students made up of both Air and Space Force personnel.
“It has definitely been a team effort to make (this) happen,” said Senior Master Sgt. Neco Johnson, FSA instructor. “We’ve needed all hands on deck, to include the use of an adjunct instructor. We’ve coordinated with the other schools in the building, along with the Gunter Library, to schedule and maximize the use of large classroom spaces around the campus. This enables us to ensure proper distancing while prioritizing the safety of our staff and students.”
In addition to being the largest class in school history, this is also the first in-residence FSA class since the COVID-19 pandemic began over a year ago. Despite the risk of transmission being high, Johnson said the school has developed and communicated clear guidelines and expectations and have implemented additional restrictions and preventative measures to keep everyone safe.
“The safety of our faculty and students has been paramount as we’ve meandered through the ups and downs of the pandemic response” Johnson said. “Beginning July 2020, our team began the first offering of virtual and in-resident hybrid learning opportunities. To our advantage, the nature of our total force faculty afforded us the privilege of having public health professionals at our fingertips. Through a full-team effort we worked through modified break schedules, seating arrangements, and lodging by seminar groups, to flexible ROM requirements, COVID batch testing, and improvised in-person experiential training. The First Sergeant Academy team maximizes every capability available to them to not only deliver the best training experience they can, but diligently work to make improvements as they go. As such, the team exceeded their annual training requirements for FY20 amid COVID and are on target to not only exceed the minimum standard in FY21, but to train the highest number of First Sergeants ever in a production year.”
The role first sergeants play in the Air Force is a critical one, they advise commanders on the readiness, health, morale, welfare and quality of life of Airmen and families to ensure a mission-ready force. Upon graduation from the FSA, the students are awarded the special duty identifier (SDI) 8F000 and are authorized to wear the first sergeant chevron.
“The 104 senior noncommissioned officers of class 21-D have been trained, tested and certified ready to rejoin their organizations as the Air Force’s newest first sergeants,” said Chief Master Sgt. John Alsvig, FSA commandant. “Congratulations again on this milestone and please know we are excited about what lies ahead of you as you lead our nation’s sons and daughters!”