Deployed Airmen discover diamond in rough
NCO gears up for

Senior Airman Melissa Maraj
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do.
For Master Sgt. Thomas Gillard, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster superintendent and acting first sergeant, these words mean more than just a chant to be recited, they are words to live by.

Initially, Sergeant Gillard began his responsibilities as the 37th AS acting first shirt when the first shirt at the time PCSed. He’s since had the added responsibility of leading his troops to success.

“People are my profession,” said Sergeant Gillard. “But what’s really important is how you demonstrate it. Do the little things, like helping people meet their needs.”

Sergeant Gillard’s astute attention to details and determination to provide for his people, contributed to the productivity of more than 70 enlisted personnel during a recent exercise in Italy where his responsibilities postured him to ensure his personnel were provided for while maintaining his loadmaster obligations.

Along with coordinating accommodations, ensuring suitable and safe working environments and acting as a liaison for exercise personnel, Sergeant Gillard also provided emergency assistance dealing with critical issues such as a death in the family in the case of one deployed member.

Throughout any given time, Sergeant Gillard can be seen providing additional support and inquiring with his people on their needs. More importantly, Sergeant Gillard does not hesitate when it comes to touching base with his troops about their future plans – even while deployed.

“First sergeants should be like (Sergeant) Gillard; get out in the unit and be visible,” said Chief Master Sgt. David “Opie” Hurst, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. “If you are only seen in the sections or flights when negative things are being presented or happening, then the people will shy away from you and lose trust in you. They will not be comfortable talking about personal problems or issues that are affecting their morale.”

When it comes to recognizing what it takes to step into the first shirt role, Chief Hurst contributes advice to Sergeant Gillard, who is slated to attend “Diamond school.”

“A diamond does not make you a first sergeant,” said Chief Hurst, who was an acting first shirt for almost two years. A first sergeant should be honest, trust worthy and have integrity, he said.

According to Chief Hurst, Sergeant Gillard possesses all of the qualities needed to be a productive and effective first sergeant.

“You have to want to help people and care about people,” said the chief. “You can’t get into a power mode and think because you have a diamond you are better than everyone else.”

Most would agree Sergeant Gillard is on his way to filling these criteria.

“He handles his duties well and takes care of his people,” said Staff Sgt. Christina Ward, 37th AS aviation resource manager. “And it’s because of his hard work and involvement with the staff that they can be successful in their jobs.”

These sentiments were shared by the 86th Airlift Wing commander, Col. Robert C. Kane, and Lt. Col. John Reid, previous 37th AS commander, as they presented Sergeant Gillard with a coin at an appreciation dinner held during the deployment.
Sergeant Gillard is slated to attend the U.S. Air Force First Sergeant Academy in August.