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Senior Master Sergeant Walker, a natural leader

Maj. Gen. Ronald Miller, 10th Air Force commander, Senior Master Sgt. Richard Walker, 924th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, Chief Master Sgt. Catherine Buchanan, 924 Fighter Group superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. James Loper, 10th Air Force command chief pose together at the Enlisted Symposium Air Force Reserve Outstanding Airmen on the Year banquet 28 March.

Maj. Gen. Ronald Miller, 10th Air Force commander, Senior Master Sgt. Richard Walker, 924th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, Chief Master Sgt. Catherine Buchanan, 924 Fighter Group superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. James Loper, 10th Air Force command chief pose together at the Enlisted Symposium Air Force Reserve Outstanding Airmen on the Year banquet 28 March. Walker won the 10 AF First Sergeant of the Year 2018. This award recognizes the important contributions and leadership qualities exhibited by Air Force members in the first sergeant special duty career field. (Photo by Chief Master Sgt. Jeremy Malcom)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Senior Master Sgt. Richard Walker, 924th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, earned the title of the 10th Air Force First Sergeant of the Year 2018.

This award recognizes the important contributions and leadership qualities exhibited by Air Force members in the first sergeant special duty career field.

“Sergeant Walker earned this award due to the excellent way he takes care of the Airmen and that includes officers and enlisted,” said Chief Master Sgt. Catherine Buchanan, 924th Fighter Group superintendent. “He is a very kind, humble person and he doesn’t even realize how much he cares but his actions clearly show that.”

Buchanan explains that Sergeant Walker goes above and beyond her expectations of what a First Sergeant should be.

“My top qualities for a shirt is that they are fair, consistent, approachable, kind, and trustworthy and Sergeant Walker is all of that, easily a natural leader” said Buchanan.

She goes went on to say that Walker’s character speaks volumes to him earning this award.

“He is so selfless and constantly engaged with his unit even when he’s performing his civilian job as a Border Patrol Agent,” said Buchanan. “It is never about Senior Master Sergeant Walker, everything he does is about someone else.”

Walker is still in shock that he was recognized for what he calls “just doing his job”.

“It completely blows my mind that I won at that level,” said Walker.

Since taking on the position, Walker has found it hard to gauge whether he’s fulfilling his duties.

“One thing that has been different in this special duty versus my main duty as a maintainer is that when you fix a part and see the plane take-off you immediately have job satisfaction, as a first sergeant it was really hard to get that instant gratification,” said Walker. “Since I started I had a feeling that I wasn’t doing enough or even doing my job right, I was always asking my commander, “Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?” and they would tell me I’m doing great but they had no one to compare me to.”

Even with the doubt that didn’t stop Walker from doing what he loves.

“Dealing with people is my favorite part about this duty,” said Walker. “I work for the Airmen in my unit and I advise the commander on the programs that he runs that affect the Airmen, I’m the conduit.”

Walker values building relationships with his Airmen and helping them progress in their career.

“There is a stigma with First Sergeants that we only deal with people who are in trouble, that we are the disciplinarians and that’s not what we do,” said Walker, “We are constantly mentoring and learning about the individual Airman and finding ways to make them feel appreciated.”

He takes great pride in getting to know his team. He wants his Airmen to be comfortable to talking to him about things that concern them whether it’s a personal problem or a work problem.

“If you have good rapport with your people you see the problem before it becomes a problem and can help them before the train crashes,” said Walker. “It could be something as simple as pulling them aside and asking what’s going on, or I could be providing them resources to help them with whatever it is that they are dealing with.”

Walker describes winning this award as is proof to himself that he’s not failing his Airmen.

“This recognition validates to me that I do I know what I’m doing and I am humbled and honored that other people see that too,” said Walker.

Buchanan has just one expectation for Walker since he won the award.

“I expect him to continue being himself, Senior Master Sgt. Walker,” she said.