First sergeant provides health, welfare for warriors

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr.
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
(This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

General health, esprit de corps, discipline, mentoring, well-being, career progression, professional development and recognition of all assigned Airmen and their families is all a part of the mission of an Air Force first sergeant -- taking care of people.

The Air Force Warrior Games athletes rely on Master Sgt. Phelipe Salinas, the 99th Communications Squadron first sergeant, to maintain their standards and discipline.

Stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Salinas volunteered to fill this role nearly two years ago when August O’Niell, an Air Force athlete formerly assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron, began competing in the adaptive sports program.

“August was a wounded pararescue Airman assigned to my unit who asked me to come watch him compete, so I went and I was immediately hooked,” Salinas said. “After the first time I saw what the athletes were accomplishing I spoke to my commander and began traveling with the team.”

Salinas advises Marsha Gonzalez, the Air Force warrior team deputy director, on all athlete issues regarding health, morale, discipline and family matters. His role reaches beyond being an adviser, he has become a part of the team and strives to take care of the athletes and their families.

The team seems to understand that the first sergeant has a responsibility to maintain the standards, and they appreciate the support Salinas brings to the team.

“He’s an amazing first sergeant, he goes where we go, he stays where we stay and he takes care of what we need,” said retired Staff Sgt. Kevin Taylor, an Air Force team athlete.

Salinas takes care of the team as if they are more than just his responsibility, they are his motivation and they have given him a new perspective on what an Airman is capable of doing.

During the 2014 Warrior Games, Salinas was often seen quietly standing on the sidelines with a smile on his face while his teammates competed in their individual and team events.

“If I could be the team first sergeant full time I would be in heaven, it’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever done,” Salinas said.

The Warrior Games included events such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, swimming, shooting, archery, and track and field events.

The games are designed to introduce wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans to adaptive sports and encourage them to stay physically active when they return to their local communities following his or her life alternating event.