BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts --
Master Sergeant Fred Fopiano, the new 104th Fighter Wing Headquarters and Operations Group first sergeant, understands the value of his position as a first sergeant and is eager to help his fellow wingmen.
Fopiano previously held the role of mission support group first sergeant for six years, which gave him the knowledge and experience necessary to excel.
“It takes time to effect change,” said Fopiano. “If you come in guns blazing trying to change the world in a weekend you will surely fail. You need to earn the trust of your people before you can effect change.”
Fopiano said that the first time he took on the duty of a first sergeant, it was because he believed it was a calling. He knew people needed someone that would listen to them and he was willing to do that.
When he was presented with the opportunity to be a first sergeant again, Fopiano took it, knowing that it was an opportunity for him to have an impact and positive influence on the members of the 104 FW at a higher and more influential level.
Colonel Peter T. Green III, 104 FW commander, believes that Fopiano will excel in his role as a first sergeant.
“Master Sergeant Fopiano is a highly experienced former First Sergeant, having served six years in the Mission Support Group position,” said Green. “It’s this experience, along with his strong work ethic and dedication to helping our members, which will make him highly effective as the new fighter wing headquarters and operations group first sergeant.”
Being a first sergeant can be a demanding role that requires a lot of devotion. A first sergeant is accountable to respond to Airmen’s needs at all times, even if that means sacrificing their own time to deal with difficult situations. Fopiano recalls the struggle of having an Airman pass away, and another one being discharged as some the hardest things he’s had to deal with.
“You invest so much energy and emotion in your Airmen,” said Fopiano. “To have one pass away or be discharged is a loss mentally and emotionally.”
Fopiano said the job is all about being willing to help people, caring about them, and helping them succeed. The benefits of supporting Airmen makes the challenges worth it.
“When I finished my first tour I received cards, letters, emails, and conversations of thanks and gratitude from my Airmen,” said Fopiano. “That helps, but I believe the most rewarding part of being a first sergeant is when my people were recognized at the flight, squadron, group, wing, state or even Air Force level. Seeing them receive the accolades they deserve means the most to me.”