Medical Group First Sergeant receives Commandant Award at First Sergeant Academy

Master Sgt. Samantha Cochran, 192nd Fighter Wing Medical Group First Sergeant, was presented the Commandant Award by Chief Master Sgt. Emmette Bush, Commandant of the First Sergeant Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., March 16, 2012. Cochran was selected among 67 peers as the candidate who most exemplified what it means to be a first sergeant. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Carlos J. Claudio/Released)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — The Commandant of the U.S. Air Force First Sergeant Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., presented the Commandant Award to the 192nd Fighter Wing Medical Group First Sergeant during graduation on March 16, 2012.

Master Sgt. Samantha Cochran was recognized by Chief Master Sgt. Emmette Bush, First Sergeant Academy Commandant, as the candidate who most epitomized what a first sergeant is. She was initially selected by her peers from the class of 67 senior non-commissioned officers as one of five finalists.

“I felt honored that my flight thought so highly of me,” said Cochran.

The finalists individually interviewed with Bush. During the interview, they were asked just two questions: how did they get there, and what did they expect to be their biggest challenge.

“The answer to the latter… was simple: to get Airmen to think outside of themselves and begin putting their military and their community first; to help them truly understand what the core value of service before self means,” said Cochran.

During the graduation ceremony, Bush presented the award to Cochran.

“When I was announced as the winner, I was very humbled and honored,” she said. “I’ve always felt the need to be a servant in some way; to know that what I was doing was making a difference.   I know that, as a First Sergeant, my role will be just that- a servant to my Airmen and to the Virginia Air National Guard.  The First Sergeant Academy was a valuable learning experience to help set me off on the right track.”

The First Sergeant Academy is an environment in which Air Force active duty, guard and reservists come together to learn about their role and responsibilities as first sergeants. Total-force classroom time comprises 80 percent of the curriculum. The other 20 percent teaches component-specific information.

“Our instructors were knowledgeable in each subject taught because they had been working in the first sergeant position for several years.  The academy also had guard and reserve instructors.  They helped bridge the gap when there were major component differences in the way a first sergeant operates,” said Cochran.