Monument honors Air Force first sergeants

  • Published
  • By Carl Bergquist
Air University Barnes Center's Air Force First Sergeants Academy at Gunter Annex is currently in the process of developing a monument to honor the work and dedication of Air Force first sergeants, said the academy's director of education. 

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Bellerose said an initial donation of $1,000 toward the monument was made in May by an AFFSA student, Master Sgt. Charles Spruill of the 94th Airlift Wing (Reserve) at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., and as of Monday, a little more than $52,000 of the $90,000 goal has been collected. 

The sergeant said diamond-shaped bricks with the donor's name for placement at Gunter's Enlisted Heritage Hall museum have accounted for the "lion's share" of the money thus collected for the project. He said an e-mail to all first sergeant councils around the world asking them to purchase a single brick has been very successful, and there has been "great response" from active-duty, Reserve and Guard members. They are sold in two sizes, with $300 and $600 price tags respectively for the small and large bricks. 

"We will be holding a fund raiser at the Air Force Sergeants Association's 2009 Professional Airmen's Conference in Atlanta Aug. 15-19 to try and raise most of the remaining money," he said. "Along with diamond-shaped bricks, we will be selling first sergeant memorabilia, a commemorative coin and first sergeant T-Shirts. We also have had the Air University Foundation on board since May." 

Bill Chivalette, EHH curator, said the museum has a "nice spot" for the monument next to the original EHH sign that already has lighting for night-time viewing. He said when Sergeant Bellerose first approached him about doing something for first sergeants, their discussion led to the monument. 

"Sergeant Bellerose asked about raising money, and Chief (Rick) Fanning (Enlisted Heritage Research Institute director) and I gave him some tips. Of course, being a former first sergeant, Chief Fanning jumped at the chance to help," he said. "But, Sergeant Bellerose is outstanding and has really worked hard on this. It has been his show, and he has made it happen." 

Sergeant Bellerose said the monument will consist of two life-sized statues of first sergeants, one male and one female, and the statues are currently being cast in Oregon. They will cost $40,000 each and will be placed on a granite diamond-shaped pedestal that will have the history of first sergeants engraved around the edge. 

"We wanted to put the monument at EHH, and not AFFSA, because the statues standing outside EHH are graphic representations of the vigilance of first sergeants," he said. "The project is on schedule and should be ready to dedicate for the 2010 Senior Enlisted Leadership Summit." 

For more information, or to make donations, call Sergeant Bellerose at DSN: 596-2900, or e-mail him at: