When You’re in Trouble, Call a First Sergeant

By Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stowell | 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade | Oct. 30, 2020


Sometimes a group needs someone who is focused on the members of the team — equipping them and paving the way for them to succeed. If your organization works in a dynamic, demanding environment, you might need to find yourself a first sergeant.

In the Army, the first sergeants are indispensable to mission success because they take care of the organization’s most important resource.

According to the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer Guide, the first sergeant is responsible for “developing the Soldiers in the unit, all administrative functions, and ensuring the health, welfare, and morale of the unit and their families.”

Additionally, the first sergeant “is the standard-bearer for their organization and serves as a role model for all Soldiers, NCOs and Officers.” (Army Training Circular 7–22.7)

Developing members of the organization

“My main concern is making sure that my Soldiers are where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there, and that they have all the stuff they need,” said 1st Sgt. Rick Hone. He is the first sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

Hone has a team of platoon sergeants that he pushes information out to nightly during the operation. His subordinates take notes as he gives out immediately useful information, like what time the bus to the dining facility will leave each morning.

He also conducts on the spot professional development.

“Push information up and down,” he says one night. It’s easy for E-7s to keep lower enlisted Soldiers informed, but Hone wants his sergeants to advise their superiors and the officers in their platoons as well.

“It’s on you to tell your captains and your majors what’s going on.”

He is constantly reminding his other noncommissioned officers to find teaching moments for their Soldiers.

One of the Soldiers present each night is another E-7 who is acting first sergeant for a subordinate company.

Sgt. 1st Class Steve Burt found out he’d be acting first sergeant about a day into the operation, when his first sergeant went into quarantine according to COVID-19 protocol.

“I lean on 1st Sgt. Hone. I listen to him to see if what I’m doing is the right thing,” he says. “He’s been a good mentor.”

Ensuring the morale and welfare of organization members

Hone and Burt both make sure their Soldiers are in good health and good spirits.

With Hone as his guide, Burt focuses on one thing above all else — “taking care of my Soldiers.”

The first sergeant makes sure his troops have food and facilities because without those needs met, morale is harder to maintain.

After his unit arrived at Fort Carson, Colorado during one mission, he learned that the unit’s supply truck was delayed because of bad weather. It couldn’t make it over the mountain pass until the next day. His Soldiers would have to make it through the night without their sleeping gear or all their clothing, in barracks that were not heated properly.

“My first thought is, how do I get my people what they need?” says Hone. He immediately contacted leadership at Fort Carson to get blankets for everyone. Then he organized a trip to a local Wal-Mart so Soldiers could buy other supplies they wanted.

Beside basic needs like food and shelter, first sergeants want their Soldiers to have good experiences.

“We gotta have fun, and we gotta build camaraderie. When you get in the suck, you look to your left and your right and you see your buddy is right there beside you.”

Hone and Burt are constantly looking for opportunities for their Soldiers to have fun and create memories.

Serving as a role model for the organization

While the commander is ultimately accountable for the unit and all its members, the first sergeant is often more visible and approachable to members at all levels.

Burt, learning fast, says he does not want to be out there running the show. Since assuming the role of acting first sergeant, he has delegated much more so he can be accessible to Soldiers.

First sergeants are the senior enlisted advisor to the commander, so they are in a position to make sure officers are aware of Soldier issues. They advocate for the rank and file, teaching them how to present themselves to get the right things done.

To maintain credibility as role models, first sergeants need to live the organization’s values. Effective first sergeants like Hone and Burt exemplify Selfless Service, one of the Army Values.

“Coming out here [to Colorado] has been a challenge because of COVID,” says Hone.

Many Soldiers couldn’t make it because of illness in their families and others who did came are in quarantine out of an abundance of caution.

“Still, our movement over here was superb. It is one of our METs (mission essential tasks) to deploy the force, and I couldn’t be prouder of the guys who helped us do that.”

The first sergeant is poised in stressful situations because he has to keep his Soldiers calm and ready for the mission.

The first sergeant is a critical role in Army companies because they perform many functions. Your organization may not have these roles assigned to a single individual. However, if you want to meet your mission requirements consider the first sergeant as a model for expert leadership.





Your Career Starts Here

Gov. Elect Spencer Cox officially became Utah’s 18th governor after Justice Paige Petersen administered the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony at Tuacahan Center for the Arts in Ivins, Washington County, Utah on Jan. 4, 2021,.

Cox and his lieutenant, Deidre Henderson, took the oath of office against a backdrop of red rock cliffs at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts Amphitheatre in Ivins. The date also marks Utah’s 125th anniversary of statehood. 

Members of the Utah National Guard supported the inauguration with the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley as the master of ceremony; the Utah National Guard Honor Guard presentation of colors; members of the 2nd Battalion; 222nd Field Artillery fire a 19-gun cannon salute; a four aircraft flyover by members of 2nd Battalion, 211th General Support Aviation Battalion; members of the 85th Weapons of Mass Destruction—Civil Support Team and other support personnel.
Gov. Spencer J. Cox inauguration ceremony 1-4-2021
By Ileen Kennedy | Jan. 5, 2021
Gov. Elect Spencer J. Cox officially became Utah’s 18th governor after Justice Paige Petersen administered the oath of office during an inauguration ceremony at Tuacahan Center for the Arts in Ivins, Washington County, Utah on Jan. 4, 2021, succeeding former Gov. Gary Herbert. 

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Lt. Col. Lorin Bodily, chief of operations for the 20th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, studies a large “sand table” map prior to a combined arms rehearsal at Fort Carson, Colo.(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Nathaniel Free)
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The 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and many of its subordinate elements traveled from Utah to Fort Carson, Colorado, to conduct a sweeping division-level combat simulation called a “warfighter exercise,” held in October 2020.

It can be hard to break into a new industry without any real skills. Many entry-level jobs still require at least 1-2 years of prior experience, which can be tough to come by. The Utah Army National Guard will cut you a paycheck while training you in a new skill that can be used in the civilian economy. We are actively looking to hire and train truck drivers, engineers, mechanics, medics, telecommunications and IT experts.
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From one battalion to another: the 489th cases its colors, while the 625th unveils
By Sgt. 1st Class Rich Stowell | Sept. 13, 2020
Members of the Utah National Guard who were part of the 489th Brigade Support Battalion became part of the 625th Military Police Battalion during a ceremony at the Springville Readiness Center, Sep. 13, 2020. Soldiers assigned to the 489th BSB stood in formation during the deactivation for their unit. The 489th BSB was activated into the Utah Army National Guard in 2008 whose primary mission was to give logistics support to its parent unit, the 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

Brig. Gen. Michael Turley, left, adjutant general, Utah National Guard presents Command Sgt.  Maj. Eric Anderson with a citation of merit following Anderson’s retirement after a 31 year career in the Utah National Guard. Anderson served as the senior enlisted leader for the Utah National Guard before announcing his retirement to take place this fall.
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Brown, a gunner for Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery, was attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on Oct. 1, 2017. Shortly after the concert started, a man started shooting indiscriminately at the massive crowd. Without hesitation or regard to personal safety, Brown immediately started to render aid to the wounded personnel while under constant gunfire. His actions on that tragic day, also known as one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States, saved the lives of half a dozen fellow concertgoers.
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