I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Command Master Sgt. Jennifer Kersey of the 437th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, S.C. She advises the wing commander, two groups, and seven squadron commanders on the utilization of over 1,900 enlisted members to ensure the wing’s combat readiness.
Here are the answers to some of my favorite questions.
What are your personal favorite books?
‘The Fourth Star’. Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army By David Cloud and Greg Jaffe. ‘The Fourth Star’ tells the story of four senior Army officers whose careers often parallel in time and challenge and how they dealt with generations of issues, the bureaucracy of a slow-moving organization that is undermanned and often times unequipped to deal with the perils of war (Vietnam to Iraq).
‘My Share of the Task A Memoir, General Stanley McChrystal’. An awesome read filled with history, personal experience and resiliency. I met Gen. McChrystal at an event at Pope Field, Fort Bragg, N.C., in the early 2000s. He was gracious with his time and spoke to a small group of Air Force noncommissioned officers like we were part of his team.
‘The Go-Giver’, Bob Burg and John David Mann. While the parables are all related to business, the most important thing I gleaned from this book is an adage that, “you need to love the people you lead or you’ll never have the courage to do what’s best for them.”
I will read ANYTHING by or about Condoleezza Rice. My favorites are: ‘CONDI, The Condoleezza Rice Story’ by Antonia Felix and ‘Democracy Stories from the Long Road to Freedom’ by Condoleezza Rice.
Ms. Rice is my hero. She is everything I aspire to be. Clearly a lady and a diplomat, she is graceful, smart, articulate and tough as nails.
Reading is important for the military and the nation because it provides us the perspective that we can’t get anywhere else; other than with world travel. Reading, is in fact, like traveling. It opens up our minds to new and unique levels of understanding on issues and allows us to think creatively, even when we are NOT creative. Reading encourages the development of language and inspires us to be able to talk about the things we read. Reading is also an outlet that allows a person to escape and dream.
Can you provide a specific example or story where reading has helped you? Either from a personal or science/research perspective?
When I was preparing to attend the Navy Senior NCO Academy, I wanted to find a historical connection to my sister service members before I sat in the classroom with them. So, I picked Admiral James Stockdale’s ‘A Vietnam Experience, Ten Years of Reflection’.
That book was life-changing; the memories of what those POWs endured stays with me every time I am faced with a problem or obstacle. I had never really dug too deep into the Vietnam Conflict and I was not familiar at all with the Navy’s contribution to that war. While survivability didn’t ever seem like an option at the time, Admiral Stockdale and his fellow POWs (posthumously) prove that resiliency and support for our fellow man is a choice we CAN make every day.
Thank you, Master Sargent Kersey, for this great interview! In addition to her work at Joint Base Charleston, she serves as the commander’s representative on numerous committees, councils, and boards charged with meeting quality of force as well as the quality of life needs for the base populace. Master Sargent Kersey entered the Air Force in January 1991. She remained at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, for law enforcement specialist technical training. She has led mission support and agile combat support Airmen at the group (garrison and deployed) and directorate-levels. Her assignments include bases in Nebraska, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Washington State. Her additional tours of duty include Korea, Panama, Guam, Turkey, and Germany. Contingency deployments have taken her to Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, and Afghanistan.