HOMETOWN HERO: Sullivan, Jr. promoted

Staff Report
Leroy Sullivan, Jr.

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. - A first sergeant's job is never finished. Rain or shine, the show must go on.

This was evident to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Leroy Sullivan, Jr., after becoming the new first sergeant for the 1st Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

"My first thought when I wake up is what I have to do for the day," Sullivan said. "I always look at my calendar, which stays booked with appointments and meetings."

Prior to becoming a first sergeant, Sullivan, Jr., who has served 10 of his 17 years at Langley, was the superintendent, as well as the A-10 weapons system manager at the 438th Supply Chain Operations Squadron, a tenant unit at Langley.

In fall 2015, he wasn't aware of the changes that were to soon arise from his new duty and leadership role.

"As far as responsibility, that didn't change much, but in a way, evolved," Sullivan said.

"The job as a first sergeant is much bigger than that of a superintendent or [weapons systems] manager, and my thought is: to whom much is given, much is required."

As stated in Air Force Instruction 36-2618, the Enlisted Force Structure, a first sergeant is a special, senior noncommissioned officer position. A first sergeant is there to provide a dedicated focal point for all readiness, health, morale, welfare and quality-of-life issues within his or her organization.

When one of Sullivan's Airmen was faced with the dilemma of receiving orders for a permanent change of station he knew he needed to step in. The Airman, a newlywed, would be separated from his wife, who is currently serving in another branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, so Sullivan did what a first sergeant does to support their troops.

"His Navy wife was potentially being left in Virginia while he was relocating across the U.S.," Sullivan said. "I had to do something about it. I made some calls to the navy equivalent [of a first sergeant] and basically, she's going with her husband."

According to Sullivan, he has to be a hub of information, using the network of other first sergeants or figuring out ways to get a task done, even if he doesn't know how.

"This is one of the most rewarding jobs in the Air Force," Sullivan said. "I truly mean that, it gets stressful but I always know I made a difference."

Not only does being a first sergeant give him the feeling of accomplishment but is also a reminder that he has to be the example, demonstrating daily the warrior ethos and whole Airman concept.

"The core values took on a new meaning when I became a shirt," said Sullivan, who has spent more than half of his career at Langley. "I have to be top notch at everything; professionalism, conduct, values, integrity. I have to set the tone for how I want to see my people excel."

When the day is done, like his dedication as a first sergeant, his family receives his full attention at home.

"When I walk in the door from work, my first sergeant mode is put on vibrate," Sullivan said. "My job as a first sergeant is not forgotten about, but my family deserves the same commitment I give my official duties."

When family time is done and it is time to refresh for the next day, his thoughts are the same as the day before.

"I always have the same flow of information as I lay my head down for the night," Sullivan said. "A first sergeant's job is never done and I prepare for the challenges the next day will bring."