By Sgt. James Burroughs, JSC-A Public Affairs Staff Writer
KABUL - Alabama National Guardsman, Sgt. 1st Class Fredrick L. Norris, a resident of Alexander City, Ala., was appointed as first sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Company U.S. Forces-Afghanistan July 1.
This appointment came as a surprise to Norris, who deployed to Afghanistan with the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in November.
He was assigned as a liaison officer from the 135th to USFOR-A. As a LNO for USFOR-A, he worked in the Joint Operations Center in Kabul.
“A Guardsman never knows who is watching,” said Norris. “They should always show leadership, self-confidence and professionalism. This creates opportunities where anything is possible. When they asked me to be first sergeant, I said ‘of course’.”
The selection of a first sergeant is made by the unit’s commander and command sergeant major.
A first sergeant must have a high level of competence, energy, motivation and must be able to communicate effectively.
He also promotes enlisted welfare, morale and health issues. Additionally, he helps the commander maintain discipline and standards of conduct as well as providing guidance on matters of leadership and military justice.
A first sergeant’s professional conduct and appearance must be exemplary.
“Some people might be surprised that this opening went to a Guardsman, but they shouldn’t,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Howard of USFOR-A.
“This is a joint command with Active duty soldiers, Guardsmen and Reservists from all branches of service,” Howard said. “We give all non-commissioned officers the same opportunity to succeed. First Sgt. Norris was the best candidate we considered.”
This appointment was also a surprise to Norris’ command.
“I didn’t expect the call,” said 135th ESC Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Kinder. “Norris does an outstanding job and is fully capable of performing the duties,” said Kinder. “If I had an opening he would be one of my first candidates to consider. When Command Sgt. Maj. Howard called I had to look up the regulations that would allow us to assign him to USFOR-A.”
“The first sergeant’s most important job is taking care of troops,” said Norris. “I want the mission to be accomplished and the families to be cared for.”
Helping others comes naturally to Norris. Back home in Alabama, he serves as Director of Operations of Laurel Heights Youth and Adult Center.
He works with kids and adults offering afternoon tutorials, GED training and activities for senior citizens.
“This was an opportunity that broadened my horizons,” said Norris. “I am ready for whatever comes next.”