The last for a 1st Sgt.

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Edward Bard
  • 175th Wing
Master Sgt. Kathy Watson started her career in the military in 1984. She enlisted as an active duty personnel specialist in the USAF. Her first duty station was Minot AFB, North Dakota. The first day she was on the base it snowed. She said "Everyone was upset but me. I loved the snow." It was the first time she had ever experienced a snowfall being a native of Florida. Her next station of duty was in Greece from 1986-1988. Sgt. Watson left active duty in 1988 and enlisted in the Army National Guard that same year and continued until 1992 in Florida. She was married to an active duty Navy member, so they traveled quite a bit. She and her husband moved again to California and she changed jobs to Logistics from 1992-2003. Sgt. Watson came to Maryland in 2003 as a personnel specialist in the security forces squadron (SFS) working for the 1st Sgt.. After working in the SFS for three years the 1st Sgt. retired and she was encouraged by the commander to put her hat in the ring for the position. In August 2006 she was selected to be the 1st Sgt. and promoted to Master Sgt. under Lt. Col. Raul Willem, the SFS commander.

When asked what legacy do you hope to leave in the SFS being the first black female to hold this position? She replied, "I want them to know that I genuinely cared. One of the many questions I was asked when being interviewed for my current position was 'Why do you want to be the 1st shirt?' From the time someone comes through our front gate whether they are with my unit or not, I want them to know they just joined an extended family, that they are part of something big." Watson continues "In SFS we started the Right Start Program I want to be known for giving new members a right start I would like to think that we gave them the tools needed to progress in their military careers."

Future plans are for Master Sgt. Watson to retire at the end of this year as her husband of over twenty years has done in July and relocate to the northern Florida area. They want to take over forty years of combined military skills and move them to the education system. They prefer to be in the Jr. ROTC program. In addition, Master Sgt. Watson wants to coach women's high school sports, preferably softball and track. The Maryland Air National Guard has three retired members - SMS Randy Letchin, Master Sgt. Tony Felder and Tech. Sgt. Paul Smith - who now are instructors in the Jr. ROTC program in the Baltimore City School system. Sgt. Watson visited Master Sgt. Tony Felder at Edmondson High School and found that she wanted to pursue the Jr. ROTC program when she retires.

Her Parting Words:
"Manage your career - you are responsible for it. If I tell you something, hold me accountable" Watson said. She continues by saying that she likes to give tools to young people and watch them grow, such as her planting seeds in her garden and watching plants grow.
# # #