One day at a time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anania Tekurio
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of four articles on the Journey to Chief, what it takes to become a chief master sergeant and their experiences in their careers.

The year was 1988, right before Operation Desert Storm, when a track star from a small town in Florida decided he needed a change of pace and decided to join the U.S. Air Force.

"I grew up in the small town of San Mateo, Florida," said Chief Master Sgt. Freddie Dorsey, 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent. "I received a track scholarship but, after a year in college, I felt I needed to find something else to do."

The summer after his year in college, Dorsey, along with a few buddies, went to take their Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

"My friends didn't do well enough on the test to qualify, but I did and so I was off and ready to go," Dorsey said. "I didn't see myself as being in the U.S. Army - I just ended up going straight to the Air Force recruiter."

The process went quickly and Dorsey was on his way to San Antonio, Texas, for Basic Military Training that following October.

"I went in 'open general,'" Dorsey said. "I didn't really have anyone guiding me, telling me what jobs I should pursue. I ended up getting assigned in supply. It wasn't anything too technical, it was mainly managing the shop and issuing out tools - tasks like that. I enjoyed it."

Dorsey's first base was Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina where, he said, his initial four years went by rapidly as he enjoyed being in the Air Force.

As an Airman 1st Class, Dorsey was handpicked to deploy for Operation Desert Storm.

"That first deployment, I was there for seven months," Dorsey said. "As soon as I got back, I had orders to Korea."

Everything was happening at a fast pace for Dorsey - it was going so fast for him that thinking about what he was going to do next wasn't really at the forefront of his mind.

"I just took one day at a time," Dorsey said. "Since the beginning of my career in the Air Force, it's been go, go, go.  I was totally focused on the day at hand, working hard and getting the mission done."

Dorsey added he gained much satisfaction by being able to see his hard work benefit the mission, but it wasn't until his later years, when he was a master sergeant, where he began to seriously think about his future serving his country.

"I was a firewall 5 my whole career, truly among the best on my enlisted performance reports and you know, I thought I was on track," Dorsey said. "But I was a master sergeant for a long time and in 2006, my first sergeant gave me some feedback on my EPR. It gave me a reality check on what I was lacking in regards to moving forward in my career."

Dorsey didn't let that discussion with his first shirt get him down. Instead, he used it as a way to set goals and focus on his future.

"I took it as a challenge and began taking care of what needed to be done in order for me to get to the next level," Dorsey said. "I was re-motivated and it made me feel good that I was getting a lot of support from my leadership."

Dorsey said his initiative to do what was needed to get to higher echelons in his career carried over to his peers and Airmen in his office. He was able to guide and help them become more aware of what else they could do to enhance their careers.

Dorsey credits not only hard work but, primarily, the leadership he had in his later years for motivating him to pursue senior and chief master sergeant - working hard may get one where they need to go, but ultimately, supportive leadership can skyrocket an already hard-charger.

"It is never too late to start working toward your goals," Dorsey said. "I do sometimes reflect back and think, if only I would've been working on my education goals or getting to the next level earlier, I would've gotten to this point sooner. [However], I realize I am at this point, I am grateful and honored to be a chief and that I can take what I've experienced and help better prepare my Airmen for their futures."