By Tech. Sgt. James Bentley, 117th Air Refueling Wing/Public Affairs
/ Published December 16, 2020
U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. La'Tonya June works at 117th Intel Squadron, Sumpter Smith Joint National Guard Base, Ala., Oct 20, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Tech. Sgt. Jim Bentley)
Master Sgt. La’Tonya June serves as First Sergeant at the 117th Intelligence Squadron and she has earned recognition as First Sergeant of the Year 2019.
An Imagery Analyst for over 14 years, June emphasized the importance of supporting airmen, especially given the squadron’s 24 hour a day mission set. Her position involves helping them through mission related tasks as well as major life events. She builds positive working relationships, by staying in tune with each member’s personal and professional needs.
“It is our duty, people are our mission,” June said. “But people have different ways of going about caring for their airmen… We’re human beings first. When I look them in their eyes, I want to get to know them as the man or woman, and then the airman.”
June described what it takes to excel in her role. “It is absolutely, 24/7 understanding, flexibility and empathy. I say it in that order for a couple of reasons, but in terms of understanding: there are people that walk into your office or just pass you in the halls and you’ve got to understand… first what they’re saying to you, then take into account the background behind it.
She continued, “Flexibility: someone may come in your office when you are task-saturated, but you have to be ready to adjust and know how to pause and help. There’s kind of an art to it. I haven’t mastered it, but I’ve definitely prayed about it and I continue to work on it.” She believes her style of being there for others has to fit every individual.
She says empathy is truly important as well. An airman may visit her asking for feedback to help solve a problem, but sometimes they need just need someone to listen. “Sometimes they just need that ear, or a helping hand for reassurance. People typically end up saying, I can get myself out of this situation.” She strives to be there to show everyone to trust themselves.
“Those are the three things that I try to do. It’s what my leadership has taught me, it’s what my parents have taught me, so it’s ingrained on both ends.“ said June.
She says she is close to the end of her tenure as First Sergeant, but she will continue to work full-time as the Quality Management Superintendent of her squadron. As she reflects over the last four years, she is grateful for the relationships she has developed while serving in her position. While working as a First Sergeant, she has learned many invaluable lessons; and as she goes forth in her career, she intends to keep growing as a trusted leader in her organization and as a fellow wingman to all who cross her path.