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480th First Sergeant comes full circle
Master Sgt Michael Patrick, 480th Fighter Squadron First Sergeant, stands in front of an F-16 Fighting Falcon bearing his squadron's tailflash Oct. 13 during Operation Thracian Star. Sergeant Patrick returned to the 480th FS after nearly 20 years to serve as the First Sergeant for the three-week combined exercise that gave both U.S. and Bulgarian Airmen the opportunity to train together and strengthen relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jillian Torango)
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480th First Sergeant comes full circle

Posted 10/13/2010   Updated 10/13/2010 Email story   Print story


by Maj. Jillian Torango
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/13/2010 - GRAF IGNATIEVO AIR FORCE BASE, Bulgaria -- Master Sergeant Michael Patrick has seen the 480th Fighter Squadron from two different perspectives - first as a new Airman during the early 1990s and now as its First Sergeant during a weapons training deployment called Operation Thracian Star.

Sergeant Patrick was originally assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron in 1991 as an Airman 1st Class aviation resource manager who took care of the aircraft scheduling, weather briefings and pilot requirement tracking.

"The 480th FS was my second duty assignment after only one year at Homestead Air Force Base, Fla.," Sergeant Patrick said. "I was an airman 1st class brought in as a temporary NCO in charge of the shop until an actual NCO could fill the position."

It wasn't long before the then Airman Patrick went on his first deployment with the 480th FS to Saudi Arabia where in his down time he sought mentorship and guidance from his First Sergeant.

"I would spend a lot of time with our First Sergeant and I've wanted to be a "shirt" ever since then," he said. "He showed me it was all about helping people and not constantly yelling or demanding things from those below you in rank."

Nearly 20 years later, Sergeant Patrick has come full circle and is humbled by the fact that he has filled the boots of his first Air Force mentor.

"Being chosen as the 480th FS First Sergeant for this deployment is a big deal to me because this is where it all started," Sergeant Patrick said, "I've been in the Air Force now for 22 years and will test for senior master sgt. this year in the hope of continuing my Air Force career."

Sergeant Patrick talks about the Airmen on this deployment with pride knowing that 20 years after he first served with the 480th FS, they are continuing the squadron's historic mission.

"The 480th FS is a war-fighting squadron which has a long history of greatness. Its people, to include Lance P. Sijan, have always worked hard and taken care of each other," he said. "I can't say enough about our Airmen who are working on these aircraft and supporting our mission to keep the Warhawks flying and supporting our Allies during this time of war."

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