ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — Editor's note: Video is from coverage of Robins Master Sgt. receiving Bronze Star.
A master sergeant at Robins Air Force Base has been honored with a prestigious award for her service and dedication.
According to a news release from the base, Master Sgt. Crystal Bateman, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group first sergeant, was presented the USAF First Sergeant of the Year award on Aug. 27.
The release says, "First sergeants are a dedicated focal point for all readiness, health, morale, welfare and quality of life issues within their organizations. At a home station or in expeditionary environments, their primary responsibility is to build and maintain a mission-ready force."
Bateman said that she believes taking care of people is her calling, one that informed her work as an Airman 1st Class over 18 years ago and continued in her role as a training manager, which prepared her for becoming a first sergeant.
“Becoming a First Sergeant has been my dream job since I was an Airman 1st class a little over 18 years ago,” she said. “Seeing how they cared for Airmen and in doing so, it fueled mission accomplishment. That was just so intriguing to me,” Bateman said.
For Sgt. Bateman, this award is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication, even through what was a challenging 2021 for her.
“Most in my unit know that it was an incredibly rough year for me,” she said. “From cancer scares to a family that suffered from young family members being sexually assaulted culminated by a suicide it was too much.
“I was depressed and decided to seek help,” she continued. “That was the best decision I could have made for my life.”
Bateman’s leadership and first sergeants rallied to provide support.
“My family, friends, command team, various mentors and first sergeants all over the Air Force really supported me during those difficult times while I recovered,” she said. “My faith allowed me to persevere and never give up.”
Being recognized for this prestigious award was breathtaking for Bateman, and she continues to look for ways to improve herself. The first sergeant says she believes it takes a community to develop someone.
“I can say that in whatever capacity I am assigned, being of service to people will be my primary focus,” she said. “I am very optimistic about the opportunities to come and continue leading in our Air Force. Who knows? I may be a command chief one day."
Bateman was presented the award by Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Joanne Bass on August 27 in San Antonio, Texas.