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News > Group 56 focuses on camaraderie, mentorship
Group 56 focuses on camaraderie, mentorship

Posted 6/13/2007   Updated 6/14/2007 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/13/2007 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Group 56 is a professional organization of staff and technical sergeants of the 4th Fighter Wing that is focused on camaraderie and mentorship.

The organization's goal is to enhance the camaraderie and prestige of non-commissioned officers, while promoting a spirit of unity and honor among all enlisted personnel. Each member is encouraged to actively participate in the group's efforts to set an example of accepted leadership practices and to promote the welfare and recognition of enlisted personnel.

Those NCOs who attend the monthly Group 56 meetings can expect to network with their peers from other base organizations.

"As the backbone of the Air Force, it is critical that NCOs work with each other to be more efficient and more effective at carrying out the mission," said Tech. Sgt. Patrick Seiler, the group's president from the 4th Comptroller Squadron. "Being able to network strengthens that backbone."

The meetings provide a forum where individual NCOs can bring attention to issues that concern the wing and the installation. The group also uses the meetings to address requests for support from other organizations. Members discuss issues and events during the meetings to determine the group's involvement.

Recently, the group considered how they could effectively support the Airman's Attic. After seeking counsel from members, the group's leadership decided that administrative control of the Airman's Attic was not feasible. Instead, the group offered to supply a weekly pool of volunteers to assist with the attic's functions.

In another example, Staff Sgt. Danielle Holloway, a group member from the 333rd Fighter Squadron, requested assistance with running a bone marrow drive. After voting on the issues, the group responded by providing financial, manpower and publicity support.

Besides the Airman's Attic and the bone marrow drive, the group provides many other volunteer opportunities to the wing's NCOs.

Mentorship is one of the key objectives of Group 56. Members are encouraged to act as role models for the development and mentorship of enlisted Airmen.

To help foster the development of Airmen, the group administers the Airman Professional Enhancement Seminar. The mission of the seminar is to bridge the gap between initial military training and Airman Leadership School. The course is designed to address the issues, challenges and opportunities facing Airmen stationed here while enhancing their professional development by setting the foundation for success as they advance in their Air Force careers.

Another program the group is involved in to promote mentorship is the Airmen Outreach program. The Airmen Outreach program is a series of alcohol-free events held near the Airmen's dormitories where Airmen can mingle with their peers and supervisors in a relaxed social setting.

"Group 56 contributes ideas and financial support for Airmen Outreach events," said Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Weins, a member of the Airmen Outreach committee. "They also attend the events and make themselves available to the Airmen."

The group also holds a panel at the First-Term Airmen's Center. The goal of the 3-person panel is to ensure that every first-term Airman that comes to the 4th Fighter Wing has general insight as to what supervisors expect, said Staff Sgt. Verna Cannon, FTAC team leader and Group 56 member.

The group's newest program is the Airman Mentorship Program held at the Airmen's Center on the second Thursday of each month. Group 56 provides food and drinks to all Airmen.

"The Airman Mentorship Program was designed to provide stellar NCOs the opportunity to personally mentor and develop our Airmen into stellar performers and leaders," said Tech. Sgt. Frank Larkin, a Group 56 member from the 4th Medical Group who helped develop the program. "The program is held on an informal level in order to allow the Airmen to feel comfortable and to take advantage of this opportunity in a personal setting."

Supporting the group's many events takes money. To fill its coffers, the group holds fund-raising events. Recent fundraisers include working as guest food servers at a local restaurant and running food booths at the Wings Over Wayne air show.

"We provide food and drinks for events such as the Airman's Outreach, FTAC social, and Airman's Professional Enhancement Seminar Luncheon," said Tech. Sgt. Shawn Laws, the group's treasurer from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron. "We also sponsor a needy family during the holiday season by providing a meal with all the fixings and gifts."

Group 56 is not an all-work-and-no-play organization. The group holds quarterly social events that allow its members and their families to get to know one another in an informal setting.

"Being an NCO is great, but sometimes I get stuck in the wing's high operational tempo," said Staff Sgt. Richard Barnes, a group member from the 4th CES. "It's great to get out and see my fellow NCOs' in a laid-back environment."

The group is always seeking new members to provide fresh perspectives on how NCOs can become better professionals and mentors.

"Group 56 creates great opportunities to help enhance Seymour Johnson's NCOs personal and professional development as well as provides a great avenue to build friendships and make their tour at Seymour Johnson a rewarding experience," said Sergeant Seiler.

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