First sergeant makes big impression at MAJCOM

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Master Sgt. Rebecca McNelley, 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron first sergeant, was recently awarded as the 2013 Air Force Global Strike Command's First Sergeant of the Year at a ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., April 10, 2014.

"It is very humbling to win," McNelley said. "I never thought I would win, never thought my name would be called, and when it was, it felt very humbling."

McNelley competed against two first sergeants, each a representative chosen from among their peers.

She has been a first sergeant for almost two years; her first 15 months were spent as the first sergeant of the 30th Airlift squadron. She was assigned first sergeant of the 790th MSFS in August 2013.

"Master Sgt. McNelley has a can-do attitude and her enthusiasm is contagious," said Lt. Col. Melissa Youderian, 790th MSFS commander. "She is committed to fostering individual relationships and keeps a tracker to ensure she's met and talked with every single Airman. When you have a large squadron, it is possible for Airmen to fall through the cracks, but McNelley is committed to ensuring every Airman has positive engagement from squadron leadership."

McNelley has had many experiences in her time as a first sergeant, but she said the most memorable was when one of her Airmen was surprisingly selected for Below-the-Zone promotion, an early advancement in rank from Airman 1st Class to Senior Airman based on superior performance, after originally being a non-selectee.

"We were told he was selected the week he returned home from his deployment," McNelley said. "When he got off the plane, we surprised him with the news and memorabilia. It was a great homecoming for him."

Becoming a first sergeant was one of McNelley's military-career goals.

"Since I was an Airman, from the point I learned what they did, I have known that I wanted to be a first sergeant," McNelley said. "I knew it was part of my calling in the Air Force. It was like a dream car. You know you want it and you save up and save up until it is finally within reach and it is exactly what you want. Once I knew I had the tools, the training and the leadership needed, I knew I was going to find a way to do it."

McNelley's future goal is to become a chief master sergeant while mentoring and being a positive influence in the lives of Airmen, she said. Outside of the military, McNelley hopes to complete a master's degree in Management and Leadership.

"Master Sgt. McNelley has a passion for programs that support Airmen," Youderian said. "Whether it is localized support with holiday baskets and the wing Angel Tree program, or advocating for Airmen through her involvement with the Air Force Sergeants Association, McNelley has a passion to help Airmen and make a positive impact on the Air Force. She is proof positive that kindness should not be mistaken for weakness. She genuinely cares for people but leads from the front when it comes to adhering to and enforcing standards. These traits make her a great senior NCO and First Sergeant." 
Quick Facts about Master Sgt. McNelley Favorite activity
Being a mom with my children
Married, almost 10 years
4 children
Favorite book
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
First Duty Station
F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.
Favorite animal
Arrived at Warren
May 2012
Favorite food
Mother's home cooked meals
Dream duty location
McConnell AFB, Kan.
Favorite sport Basketball, preferably college basketball
Dream Vacation
Camping at Yellowstone
Favorite T.V. show
Favorite place visited
Anywhere with family
Favorite movie