I am The 908th: Master Sgt. Edward Melendez

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Juliana Todd
  • 908th Airlift Wing

"Some people equate it to an HR position, but it's way more than just that,” said Master Sgt. Edward Melendez, first sergeant for the 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron.

Melendez, recognized as the 908th Airlift Wing’s 2023 First Sergeant of the Year, epitomizes the qualities valued by the Air Force.

Melendez started out his Air Force career as an active-duty service member from 2001 through 2007. His first duty station was Hill Air Force Base, Utah, followed by Osan Air Base, South Korea, and finally Eglin Air Force Base, Florida before transitioning to the Air Force Reserve in 2008 with the 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. There he worked on C-130s until April 2022 when the wing divested itself of the last of the cargo aircraft in preparation for a new mission training MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopter aircrew.

"For about six months after, I sat over there [at the 908th AMXS] twiddling my thumbs, trying to figure out what to do with my life, but I knew that I had more to give to the Air Force," said Melendez. "I asked around to see where there was a need, and they needed first sergeants, so I applied."

Melendez’s leadership unanimously agreed that he was more than eligible and would be a great fit for the role.

That proved true during a deployment to Kuwait when the first sergeants he trained under departed for a different base, leaving himself and another first sergeant to serve the entire installation.

"It was interesting because I wasn't really a first sergeant yet," he said. "I'm a believer, and I felt like that was something God was kind of putting me into at the moment to get a taste of what this would be like."

That firsthand experience solidified his decision.

Now, as a first sergeant for the 908th ASTS and a member of the first sergeant’s council, he assists and provides guidance to his squadron commander and senior enlisted leader on all personnel matters. He helps members with career progression, conflict resolution and upholding standards.

"Being able to see people's careers progress and helping them make decisions is a very satisfying part of my job," said Melendez. "There are people who come into the office and they're like, 'I don't want to do this anymore.' and then I ask ‘Why?’ and try to get back to the root of why they joined and what it means to them.”

Outside of the military, Melendez works as a life cycle logistician for a defense contractor, bridging the gap between technical and user sides for different Department of Defense programs.

He also volunteers at his local church, providing guidance to pre-elementary students, and volunteers with the Aerospace Industries Association board, overseeing legislative matters at the DoD level.

Melendez is enthusiastic about his new position and pleased to see the eagerness of Wing Airmen to train and prepare for their mission, helping them keep their spark along the way.

“I love my role as a first sergeant,” he said. “I also understand my responsibilities in helping Airman develop the warrior ethos and generate lethal readiness.”