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Aviano hosts First Sergeant Symposium

Airmen attend a First Sergeant Symposium at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. Completion of the course earns participants a certificate, after which their leadership may allow them to assume responsibilities as an alternate duty first sergeant to gain first-hand experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

Airmen attend a First Sergeant Symposium at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. Completion of the course earns participants a certificate, after which their leadership may allow them to assume responsibilities as an alternate duty first sergeant to gain first-hand experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ryan Duncan, 31st Communications Squadron first sergeant, speaks to attendees at a First Sergeant Symposium at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. The course was designed to deliver pertinent information to aspiring first sergeants and share experiences of those already serving in the role. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ryan Duncan, 31st Communications Squadron first sergeant, speaks to attendees at a First Sergeant Symposium at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. The course was designed to deliver pertinent information to aspiring first sergeants and share experiences of those already serving in the role. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

A panel of chief master sergeants speaks with attendees of a First Sergeant Symposium Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. The course included panels of first sergeants and chief master sergeants, as well as briefings from on-base agencies such as the Airman & Family Readiness Center and the Equal Opportunity office. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

A panel of chief master sergeants speaks with attendees of a First Sergeant Symposium Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. The course included panels of first sergeants and chief master sergeants, as well as briefings from on-base agencies such as the Airman & Family Readiness Center and the Equal Opportunity office. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

A panel of first sergeants speaks with attendees of a First Sergeant Symposium at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. Nearly 77 Airmen of both enlisted and officer ranks attended the four-day course aimed at providing information to aspiring first sergeants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

A panel of first sergeants speaks with attendees of a First Sergeant Symposium at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 1, 2020. Nearly 77 Airmen of both enlisted and officer ranks attended the four-day course aimed at providing information to aspiring first sergeants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

Have you ever wanted to be a first sergeant?

This question was posed to the Airmen of Aviano Air Base, followed by an invitation to attend a First Sergeant Symposium beginning on Aug. 31.

“Typically we try to hold a first sergeant symposium once a year, if not twice,” said Senior Master Sgt. James Gray, 31st Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. “It enables people who want to become first sergeants to learn what the first sergeant job is, and realize that we don’t have all of the answers but we know where to get them.”

Nearly 77 Airmen attended the four-day symposium, from technical sergeants to master sergeants and even a few company-grade officers. During the event, attendees were briefed by helping agencies such as the Airman & Family Readiness Center and Equal Opportunity office, and given the opportunity to speak with panels of first sergeants and chief master sergeants.

“I’ve always been interested in becoming a first sergeant,” said Tech. Sgt. Augustine Defreitas, 31st Medical Operations Squadron mental health flight noncommissioned officer in charge. “I’ve had a lot of positive experiences with first sergeants in the past. They tend to be the sounding board, and are very supportive of their members.”

Both Gray and Defreitas agreed the information presented during the symposium would be helpful not only for aspiring first sergeants, but any front-line supervisor.

“It’s not just showing what these agencies do for us, but what they do for the member as well,” said Gray. “I think this is important even for seasoned staff sergeants, if not new technical sergeants, because they are things that Airmen go through constantly.”

Completion of the course earns participants a certificate, after which their leadership may allow them to assume responsibilities as an alternate duty first sergeant to gain first-hand experience.

Though the symposium is only a first step into the world of being a first sergeant, it is an important resource for Airmen who wish to take on that role.