, specifically USAF
: "first sergeant
," the personal mentor
of any unit's non-commissioned personnel.
The first shirt, or simply "shirt", is usually among the senior enlisted men in a U.S. Air Force unit. The position is not given for seniority (although a grade of E-7 is required) but for leadership, mentoring, and the ability to listen and solve other people's problems. The rank insignia is identical to the sergeant's normal insignia for his grade, but above the star in the middle of his stripes, and below his chevrons, he has a diamond.
When any airman or sergeant needs someone to talk to about problems at home, money problems, a pregnancy, a sick relative, or whatever, he goes to the shirt. When a second lieutenant wants to know why none of the sergeants bought tickets to the $40-a-plate retirement lunch he planned for The Colonel, he asks the shirt. When the colonel wants to know how all the airmen and sergeants could afford to come to his luncheon, and by the way where did the slush fund go, he drops by the shirt's office and says, "Nice job, shirt."
The Major who taught me the basics of officership had a three-point checklist for what to do when you get to a new base or unit:
- Go to billeting and make sure you have a room for the night.
- Report to your supervisor so he can start your paperwork.
- Introduce yourself to the first shirt, because he's already your best friend in the unit.