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ROCKI 19-06, insider’s perspective: The shirt

First Sergeant poses for photo with two security forces defenders.

(Middle) U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Nicholas Ortiz, 19th Wing Staff Agency first sergeant, meets with (left) Airman 1st Class Timothy Duggan and (right) Airman 1st Class Dalton Leeper, 19th Security Forces Squadron defenders, during his nightly rounds during a full-spectrum readiness exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, April 16, 2019. Team Little Rock Airmen worked alongside Airmen from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, during a 17-day full-spectrum readiness exercise to ensure Airmen are prepared for both asymmetrical and conventional warfare scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Over the course of 17 days, Airmen from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, worked alongside Airmen from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, to tackle a full-spectrum readiness exercise to ensure Airmen are prepared to perform the necessary tasks in a deployed environment.

Operating in a deployed environment, although simulated, can take a toll on Airmen. This is where the first sergeant role came into play. Throughout the exercise, two first sergeants participated in filling this role. 

Standards, discipline, morale. To some, these are just empty words, but to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Nicholas Ortiz, 19th Wing Staff Agency first sergeant, it’s his moral compass to take care of Airmen.

“I am here to enforce standards and discipline, make sure morale is good, and to ensure everyone is taken care of,” Ortiz said.

Every night, Ortiz traversed the simulated deployed encampment to speak with Airmen from every squadron ensuring morale was high and all Airmen were well taken care of.

“We want this to feel as real as possible, but we don’t want people getting hurt,” Ortiz said. “So I go around and make sure the Airmen have everything they need.”

This exercise gave Airmen an opportunity to turn their flaws into strengths and prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.

“This is an amazing opportunity for everyone to learn to work together,” Ortiz said. “We’re preparing for tomorrow’s battles. We might have to suit up and when that happens, we want it to be muscle memory.”

When the time comes to deploy, today’s Airmen will be ready for the fight tomorrow.

“I’m extremely lucky and proud to be here and to have the opportunity to take care of all the Airmen at once,” Ortiz said. “I’m just happy to make a difference where I can.”

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