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First sergeant wins award twice

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
It is a huge accomplishment to win the 18th Air Force First Sergeant of the Year award. Imagine winning it twice in a row. That is exactly what Master Sgt. Jeff Gilbert, 436th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, of Dover Air Force Base, Del., did.

The 18th Air Force First Sergeant of the Year award is an annual award recognizing the most outstanding first sergeant for that year out of all the wings that are a part of the 18th Air Force. Gilbert won the award Feb. 14, 2012, and Feb. 26, 2013.

First sergeants are nominated for the award by their squadron commander.

Maj. Earl Davis, 436th Maintenance Squadron commander, said he wanted to see Gilbert win the Air Mobility Command level award. He said he knew he had a good shot based on his continued level of excellence from last year's winning package.

"Master Sgt. Gilbert really is that good," said Davis. "A few folks frowned on pushing him forward again but the First Sergeant of the Year award is not an award you win because it is your turn. You win because you had the best accomplishments and Gilbert certainly had that again."

First sergeants work directly with the squadron commanders. They are a dedicated focal point for all readiness, health, morale, welfare and quality of life issues within their organization. They ensure the enlisted force understands the commander's policies, goals and objectives. They also advise commanders on other enlisted Airmen on morale, discipline, mentoring, well-being, recognition and the professional development of enlisted Airmen.

Master Sgt. Steven Ousley, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant, said during the past two-and-a-half years as a first sergeant, Gilbert has held various positions on the First Sergeant Council and was president during 2012. He said Gilbert also recently deployed last year as a first sergeant, which is a highlight among first sergeants because it's not guaranteed that a person will get the opportunity to hold that position during a deployment.

"Master Sgt. Gilbert is known throughout the wing for his positive attitude and is one of the 'go-to' first sergeants for 14 other first sergeants," said Ousley. "His continual outstanding performance during the past two-and-a-half years is why he has won First Sergeant of the Year two years in a row."

Gilbert said the important thing about being a first sergeant is truly caring about and serving people. He said if you do that, typically good things will happen for you. He said he had a lot of great support around him along with the support of his family.

Gilbert said that a lot of times people may set a goal of winning an annual award, but it may come at the expense of their unit or family.

"I am thankful that it didn't come to the expense of either," said Gilbert. "I was able to juggle personal and professional commitments. I believe one of the reasons I won was because my motives were pure and by genuinely wanting to help people good things will happen to you."

Chief Master Sgt. Howard Wilson, 436th Maintenance Squadron maintenance superintendent, said wisdom usually comes from experience. He said Gilbert has an uncanny knack of knowing the right thing to do in a world where there are not a lot of clear cut issues.

"He is the one instigating the improvements, leading the Airmen and bringing positive change in the environment that he is in," said Wilson. "He is not just there and good things happen. Good things happen because he is there. When Airmen need discipline, Jeff can hand it out in spades, but he also knows when they need to talk and he is there for them."