Sheppard 1st Sgt. selected for Thunderbirds


Hailing from a horse farm in Iowa, early in his Air Force career, Master Sgt. Aaron Drain, 82nd Medical Group first sergeant, did not foresee himself becoming a first sergeant or a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird.

“I am really pumped for this opportunity,” Drain said. “The support from my family, mentors and leaders definitely helped me get to where I need to be and get selected.”

There are more than 120 enlisted personnel, representing nearly 30 career fields, which form the backbone of the Thunderbirds. Enlisted team members are selected from units across the Air Force in a highly-competitive selection process.

One of the 30 enlisted career field positions is a first sergeant.

According to the Air Force Instruction 36-2113, first sergeants primarily support the mission through interaction, support, and management of Airmen and families. They respond to the needs of unit members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We’re a jack of all trades, but master of none,” Drain said. “We take care of our Airmen and families as best as we can and if we do not have the answer, we find the answer through the various resources we have in our inventory.”

Drain has been a first sergeant for approximately two years and is excited to support the team as their first sergeant.

 “As a missile maintainer or flight engineer the opportunity to become a Thunderbird was not available,” Drain said. “After being advised by the command chief about the opening and after consulting with my family, I applied for the position.”

Drain attributes his success in his duties to his close and personal support network. His motivation to do the best he can derives from his wife and children.

“I enjoy people succeeding and enjoy helping them through the inevitable hardships in life,” Drain said. “If I can pull someone out of rut or help them with an issue, I go home with a smile on my face. It is an exhausting job sometimes, but extremely rewarding.”