Meet the First Sergeants Series: Benbrooks

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Melissa Estevez
  • 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Eric Benbrooks is the first sergeant for the 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Q: What led you to join the Air Force Reserve?

A: I joined the Reserves in 2008 after leaving active duty (six years) and becoming a full-time student at Stephen F Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas. At the time, I wasn’t ready to completely leave the military, and the reserve explosive ordinance disposal flight I joined shared a building with the active duty EOD flight I was leaving.

Q: What was your previous assignment? Where do you claim as your hometown?

A: My previous assignment before coming to JBER was as the EOD superintendent for the 307th EOD Flight at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. I enlisted in 2002 after graduating from Joshua High School (Home of the Fighting Owls) in Joshua, Texas.

Q: What is your favorite Air Force memory?

A: My favorite memory in the Air Force was during my deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2005 as a senior airman. After my team leader fell out to heat exhaustion during an improvised explosive device response, I was tasked with digging out a buried culvert, doffing my body armor and crawling in, and attaching a rope to the IED to remotely pull it out. Once I pulled it out of the culvert, I was able to dispose of the device by detonating it in place. This was the first time in my career that I was able to use the skills that I gained in EOD school.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a first sergeant?

A: My favorite part about being a first sergeant is sitting down and talking to Airman one-on-one and learning about who they are, how they got here, and where they want to go. And then as obstacles arise, being able to assist and provide support to get our Airman back on course.

Q: What can 477th Airmen expect from you?

A: My goal is to ensure our Airman are successfully completing the Mission. With that, I make myself available for our Airman both during the UTA and throughout the month.  

Q: What advice do you have for them?

A: Creating good connections with the people you work with, and making those good memories with your military family (safely and legally). I encourage everyone to plan that fishing, camping, or hiking trip with Airman from your shop/squadron/group. Those are the memories that will last you a lifetime. Plus you’ll have good stories to tell come retirement.

Q: What do you look forward to the most?

A: As I enter my 19th year in the Air Force, without a doubt I am looking forward to that finish line in my career. As a father of three, I am excited to be able to spend more time with them and be there as they grow.

Q: Who is your hero and why?

A: My hero, without a doubt, is my mother. A Navy veteran herself, she worked nights and weekends for most of my childhood and her career to provide for my sisters and I. I will always cherish and respect the sacrifices that she made to ensure that we lived a comfortable life.

Q: When can Airmen contact you? Where do they contact you?

A: The best way to contact me is by calling or texting my first sergeant phone.