Deployed Guardsman Helps Fellow Airmen
(April 25, 2010)
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Mark Miller,
first sergeant for the 380th Expeditionary Force Support
Squadron, participates in a retreat ceremony in Southwest
Asia, April 2, 2010.
SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 22, 2010 – Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Mark Miller, an
Air National Guardsman who's deployed here as the first sergeant for the 380th
Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, takes the core value of "service before
self" very seriously.
"I have a great pride in our country," said Miller, who is from the Iowa Air
National Guard's 133rd Test Squadron at Fort Dodge, Iowa -- a geographically
separated unit of the 185th Air Refueling Wing at Sioux City, Iowa.
Miller, who has been a member of the Iowa Department of Public Safety since July
1989, serves as an assistant district commander for the state police at District
7 in north-central Iowa. Now that he is deployed, the 23-year military veteran
said he is appreciative of the working relationship he has with his state
"My department has supported me 100 percent in all of my endeavors with the Air
National Guard," Miller said. "My duties as a sergeant in the state patrol are
very similar to the duties of a first sergeant. My main purpose in both jobs is
to ensure my commander has a mission-ready force."
Miller said first sergeants manage people and provide the behind-the-scenes
support that benefits many airmen.
"We deal with health and morale issues," he said. "We take care of things
like setting up emergency leave, overseeing physical fitness programs,
enforcing community standards, organizing commander's calls and coordinating
awards and promotion ceremonies. We are available to listen to people and
assist them in both work and personal problems. We also give the commanders
advice on discipline and morale."
He said first sergeants also can support airmen on a personal level.
"First sergeants are very important to our Air Force in so many ways,"
Miller said. "People need to know they have someone to go to if they are
having problems within their chain of command, fellow workers or personal
issues. We are also a neutral voice for the commanders to listen to and see
things from a different perspective. We also tend to get this done in the
Miller said duty as a first sergeant has featured some of his most-rewarding
experiences during his military career.
"I am at that point in my career where it is about the airmen," he said.
"Without the airmen, we would not succeed in our mission today and we would
not have a future. I deployed to be available for the ... young man or woman
who is away from home for perhaps the first time.”
Deployed servicemembers may ask for advice or could just need someone to
listen to them, Miller said. Many times, he added, they may just require a
different perspective on things to make whatever problem they have a little
easier to deal with.
"I just enjoy working with people," Miller said. "I spent 14 years in
munitions, three in security forces and my last six as a first sergeant.
This has, by far, been the most rewarding six years of my career."
Miller said he will never forget the support he has received from his family
during his deployment. He also is comforted with the thought that he has
helped people during his time as a first sergeant.
"When an Air National Guard shirt volunteers to deploy, it comes out as a
request for volunteers," said Miller, who currently resides in Humboldt,
Iowa, and whose hometown is Sioux City, Iowa. "When I told my wife I wanted
to volunteer for this deployment, she asked me why. I told her that I was
close to retirement, I would be taking off my first sergeant diamond in
June, and I had one last chance to make a difference in an airman's life.
“Maybe, I thought, I could help someone who was having a hard time coping in
a deployed environment,” he added. “[My family has] supported me ever since,
and I'm glad I was able to do this one more time."
photos by USAF MSgt Scott Sturkol
380th Air Expeditionary Wing
American Forces Press Service
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